Monday, December 20, 2010

A Little Tree Goes a Long Way

I was pretty bummed at not having a Christmas tree this year.  It is such an iconic piece of the holidays and yet, because of time, money, moving, etc., I just decided this year... no tree.

I accept that not having a tree is a failure on my part to get into the spirit but it still pestered me.  The apartment still isn't quite set up and my feeling was that a tree deserved to be placed in a home where it had a dedicated space, near comfortable seating, where people could enjoy it.  Without a sofa and without time to sit and stare at it I felt a tree would be mistreated and feel uncared for.  (Yes, I was anthropomorphizing the would-be tree... it's part of the Spirit of Christmas.)

But then today, sitting on my desk, I was surprised by a little Christmas tree from one of my dear friends.  Along with this little tree was a note with a quote from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  So this little tree revived the joy I had lost in not having a tree and inspired me to decorate and find more Christmas cheer this holiday season.  So, here's to you little tree.  Let's hope I can keep you green for a good long while.

And now for your viewing pleasure...

Friday, December 17, 2010

How the Christmas Tree Stand Nearly Ruined Christmas

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas when all through the house
My mother was flustered and starting to grouse
“Where the hell is the stand for this dag-nabbit tree?
We had it last year so where could it be?”
The fresh tree had come from the vendor in town
But stood propped in a corner causing the family to frown
The Christmas tree stand had gone missing somewhere
And no stone was unturned in our search for it there
“We’ll have to adapt,” said my mom in a snap
And she started to dig through a closet of crap
“Ah ha!” said she as she pulled out a bin
“This wash basin will do, “ and she drug out the tin.
Now how could a washbasin solve our quandary?
Did we plan to scrub Christmas with dirty laundry?
“Quick, grab the cat litter,” she said stern and quick
“What the hell is it for?” I asked, “What is your trick?”
She lifted the tree toward the bin with one hand,
“We’ll plug the tree in the bin and surround it with sand!”
The logic was simple and couldn’t be truer
But I imagined our problems would not become fewer.
The cats were quite curious as I brought her the bag.
They questioned its travels as cross the carpet it drag.
Mom snipped open the fresh bag of cat litter clay
And poured it around the fresh pine in the tray.
She filled and she filled till up to the brim
Did the sand ‘round the tree then she said, “Now let’s trim!”
The tree seemed unsteady but stayed still in the room
And she started to decorate while I collected the straw bristled broom.
I swept round the base as the tree came to life
And the missing tree stand no longer caused strife.
The tree was quite pretty all twinkling with light
And we sat down to watch it long into the night.
But here the story took a most sour of tone
When our genius new plan would cause all to moan.
For one little kitty had seen our tree glitter
And this new place to crap was made of the litter.
There lie the poo all fresh in its place
And our beautiful tree was now a foul stenchy disgrace.
So the lesson to learn during this time of year
Is to think twice ‘bout your plans before you commit to the cheer
For you may think its genius and be hero today
But the crap underneath is just cause for dismay.
You can sing all the carols, dress all your gifts in the wrap
But there is always that something that on your genius will crap.
  © 2010, W. Thomas Adkins

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Dammit... my basement is haunted

I just recently moved from one pre-war building in Washington Heights to another and have been so busy getting settled into the place that the question of "Is my basement a Hellmouth?" never had a chance to pop into my head.

That's not to say that the basement isn't creepy.  ALL BASEMENTS ARE CREEPY!  There's something about "let's put the rest of this place underground because that seems like a good idea since people like to be in cold, damp, dank places" that just makes them uncomfortable.

This basement is pretty big.  The building has two "towers" so the basement stretches under both with an odd sub-courtyard in the center - unreachable due to the multiple locked doors barring entry to this "yard".  When traveling down the elevator you come out into this thin hall and turn left, duck past the fly strip and make a left at the garbage bins.

Then there's another long hall where you step past (or over) a wooden trap door that can't be much more than 2'x2'... where it leads I don't care to guess.  Wander past this door and hang another left and you end up in ANOTHER hall, narrower this time, which then t-intersects with the laundry "room" - which is mostly a narrow hall to the left of the T where the washing machines sit and then to the right of the T is a square area where the dryers are housed.

I was alone around 9pm a few nights ago, gathering my dry clothes from the machines and preparing to head back through the labyrinth to the elevator and to my apartment.  But as I was folding a pair of corduroys I suddenly got an uncomfortable chill.  There is one window that faces out into the courtyard and it does have a broken pane but a sign has been plugged into the hole... and while there is a slight draft from this window, this chill didn't feel like a gust of wind.  It was more electric.  (Side note: I enjoy watching ghost shows and paranormal investigations on TV so I am aware of the theory that high electromagnetic fields can affect your nerves and the basement is probably chock full of them but...)

The chill was unnerving and I decided to finish folding my clothes upstairs and dumped the rest of the dried pieces into my cart.  But before I could turn to head back through the basement I heard and felt a breathy gasp in my left ear.

Seconds later, though they felt like hours, I had made it to the elevator and was on my way back to my place.  Whatever had happened was brief but taxing and I'm hoping that if there is something or someone down there it was only curious and didn't intend to scare.

But I think I'll be doing laundry with my roommate from now on... or dropping it off at the cleaners on the way to work.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Drag Him to Broadway!

Patrick's submission for the La Cage
aux Folles
photo contest.
So this weekend my friend Patrick found out that he is a finalist in the La Cage aux Folles photo contest.  SWEET!!  Several friends (including me) have been actively asking people to vote for him so that he can win a walk on role in this amazing Broadway production.

Which brings me back to this blog... I'd love for any (and all) readers to click his photo on the La Cage Facebook page and click the "like" button beneath it.  Now, if you don't see the "like" button just go to the top of the page, click La Cage Broadway's Profile link and "like" that first... then come back to the photo of Patrick and the "like" button should appear.

Whichever contestant has the most "likes" by Tuesday, November 23rd at noon will win the walk on role.

So, go, "like" and then "share" the photo with your friends on your Facebook wall and encourage them to vote for him too.

Thanks folks!  And don't forget to go see La Cage on Broadway.  It is a truly spectacular show and one you definitely do not want to miss.  Promise!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


View of the Queens County Farm
Museum Maize Maze from above
Last weekend was a-MAZE-ing.  (Excuse the dreaded pun but it had to happen... regardless of how corny it may be.)

The Queens County Farm Museum sets up the "Amazing Maize Maze" each year but I had no idea.  I don't remember how I heard about it... probably Gothamist or AMNY, but regardless of how I heard I'm ecstatic that I did.

If you head out on the E or F Train to the Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike Station and then hop onto the Q46 Bus (eastbound on Union Turnpike) to the Little Neck Parkway stop you can walk the 3 block to the entrance.  It's a bit of a trek (unless you have a car) but once you're there you discover this quaint little farm in the middle (or edge) of Queens and suddenly you're thrown back to the late 1800s and the smells (some good, some meh) overwhelm your senses.

But the main attraction and point of this post is the Amazing Maize Maze which doesn't lie.  You start out by getting an 8' tall flag that represents your team.  We were "Jack and the Cornstalks".  Then, after a brief "Stalk Talk" where the officiate tells you about the maze, where to find clues, map pieces, etc, you are clocked in to check your time and sent on your way.  You wander through the dense corn, searching for mailboxes that will give your pieces of the map and hunt down clue cards to nudge you in the right direction.  We clocked out of the maze at 47 minutes... not bad timing.  Some people took upward of 2 hours while some teenagers made it through in 16 minutes... but they didn't bother with the clue and mailbox hunts.

Anyhow, the maze is still running until November 7 so go.  Now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ghosts of Drag Queens Past and Present

Back in college I was doing a production of La Cage aux Folles and had not yet seen a real drag show. My mother had. But not me. In fact, when I got the word that I was cast in La Cage I called my mom and squeeled, "I'm in the show!"

"Oh yay! Which drag queen are you?"

"Oh, I'm not a drag queen. I'm a townsperson."

Quiet. Then my mother replied, "Oh," slight disappointment pierced the phone line, "that's good too."

So here I was, not playing a drag queen in my first professional show, but surrounded by friends who were who were aghast that I'd never been to a real drag show. So they whisked me away to one of the few gay bars in town (which was only five minutes from campus by car) and we entered into this dark, smoky bar with low ceilings and sticky floors... the Carousel II. I never really knew why it was called the Carousel II. Rumors were that the Carousel I had burned or that they had once lost their liquor license and it was easier to get one as a new business then to reapply as the old. Regardless, here I stood, nerves trembling (partly from excitement, partly from fear) in the Carousel II.

A spiral stairway led up to the show floor and we climbed up, the thumpa-thumpa music getting stronger and stronger. At the top of the stairs was a tiny room with an even tinier stage tucked in one corner. Short, round tables were scattered around the edge of the stage, accompanied by three or four chairs each, and dozens of other chairs were pushed against the back wall. The place felt crowded, although I was informed by my friends that this was not crowded. We pressed through the masses and found a spot against the back wall. I hopped onto a small ledge while the others took the chairs or stood to see the show.

Now, from later experiences I would learn that drag shows almost never start on time. It's epidemic. If it is scheduled to begin at 11:00pm you might as well get there at 12:10am because you'll have plenty of time to get a drink before the first queen appears. So after 45 minutes or so the hostess came over the speakers, "Ladies and gentlemen..." and so the show began.

The main lights dimmed (more, if that was really possible), other lights shifted to the mylar curtain that was pulled open at the back of the stage and a soft piano began to play. I know this song, I searched my brain. What is this??? Ah, yes. ABBA.

Onto the stage marched this massive drag queen. Her wig was a silver nest of brillo pads and in lieu of a traditional gown she wore a homemade, hugely oversized, "S.O.S." box.

Granted, the costume was a little rough, you could see staples here and then and sometimes, where glue was intended to hold it together, it was peeling back. I imagined she had it in her closet and thought, "I should drag out this old gem and see what I can do with it." So, in my imagination, she dusted it off, picked up some new steel wool at Wal-Mart and headed on down to the bar. As she sang she tosses "samples" to the audience. I remember dodging an oncoming brillo pad as it zipped past my head and hit the back wall... one of the perils of a strong performance I supposed. But even with the risk of injury and the homemade costume I remember thinking that this performer was putting on a great show. I had expected nothing more than a tired queen in a sequined JCPenney's gown but not her. She had put thought into her act. I was sure she might come out next as a tube of Aquafresh or Big League Chew and really wow the audience.

But after her big number she disappeared into the darkness backstage and didn't reappear. Instead a skinny queen in a sequined JCPenney's gown did and I knew right then the difference between Drag and drag. There has to be a show. There has to be drama and heightened reality. It has to be big, bold, glamorous. It has to be something you remember fourteen years later.

So when I saw the current Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles (my first time seeing it staged except for what I saw from the wings back in college) I knew I was in for the S.O.S. pad and not the cheap, sequined gown.

So instead of me giving a lengthy review of the current show, just know this. Go. I promise you will get a Broadway quality S.O.S. pad performance and not a cheap, sequined JCPenney gown. Now go! GO!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Discovering during Columbus Day Weekend

Columbus Day Weekend (which, didn't we decide it would be Discoverers Day at some point in my elementary school days?) meant a much needed 3-day weekend but, coming right after payday also meant a much broke weekend. So, what do you do in NYC when you have just paid your bills and looking for something fun and interesting to do?

Well, we decided to go exploring (much like Columbus himself) and found ourselves traveling the F train to Roosevelt Island.

We'd never been (the closest I'd been was watching Dark Water, the slightly scary, mildly boring 2005 horror movie starring Jennifer Connelly) and I figured it might be interesting to look around and see what the odd little strip of land had to offer. You arrive on the island on the south end where some beautiful new high rise condos have been built and where a massive Duane Reade sits across from a cozy little Starbucks. But as you begin to walk north the "new" wears away and suddenly you are in this dark, almost ghost-town valley of buildings that feel dead. We saw less than 20 people as we walked along the island. The whole place has this sort of post-apocalypticness to it... as though it has been evacuated due to a zombie plague.

Not fun. Not interesting.

So, we climbed down into the F and took off for a place that was fun, interesting and familiar - the village.

At Ofrenda's we grabbed some Bloody Maria's - their take on Bloody Marys. Mine was fine but Ren didn't enjoy his. So, after remembering that it was National Coming Out Day, we headed around the corner to The Stonewall Inn (epicenter of all things 'gay rights') and discovered that the well drinks were two-for-one. Fantastic! Of the seven people in the bar we were the quietest... but we were tired from our promenade through NYC's quietest and most gloomy neighborhood.

This weekend will be a corn maze, pumpkin harvest extravaganza... so that should make up for the blah of Roosevelt Island. Here's hoping!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Reason for a Prick

Rick Moranis in the 1986 film version.

Back in college we had to do an "audition" as our Musical Theatre final exam.  It wasn't for a show, just a practice audition to prepare us for the "real world."  I sang "Grow for Me" from Little Shop of Horrors.  Jimmy was playing the piano while Richard (the then MT professor/choreographer) sat cross-legged on a stool with his clipboard, questioning our talents.

At the point in the song where Seymour nips his finger on the Audrey II's thorns I skipped any physical indication of injuring myself and continued on with the song.  When it was over they both just stared at me. 

"What?  Was it awful?" I asked, desperate for some sort of praise.

Richard shifted on his stool, tapped his pencil against the clipboard and looked at Jimmy.  Jimmy, with glasses shifted down on his nose, glances half at me, half at nothing, and says "I can't believe this."

At this point I'm sweating.  Was I that bad?  CRAP!

"I don't think I can say this," Richard sighed, staring at his clipboard.  

"WHAT?" Exasperation was setting in.

"I just," pause for drama, "I just..." WHAT? "I just think you need a good prick."

Stunned silence.  Jimmy, with lips pinched, trying not to smile, returns to the piano as if he's on the hunt for some long lost key that was lost eons ago.

Gay humor by my professor.  And not the last time it would happen.

My Best Friend's Gay Wedding... and other adventures

Last weekend I was honored to be an attendant in my best friend's wedding (not the movie, although that too would have been delightful).  Steve was marrying Jay and it would be my first gay wedding.  Of course, politics what they are and since the Berkshires are beautiful this time of year, the wedding was held in Massachusetts.

The wedding was held on the grounds of The Inn at Laurel Lake, a quaint B&B, overlooking the lake near The Mount.  As if by magic the weather was beautiful, as were the grooms... the wedding party wasn't so bad either if I do say so myself.

Stephanie, Steve and I (pictured) were inseparable in college.  We were in shows together, partied together, got into zany adventures together... it goes on and on.  In one such moment of foolishness we decided to begin working out together.  This usually meant that Stephanie and I would wander around the gym gossiping about the other members while Steve wandered around the gym offering to spot would-be athletes.  What always followed was ravenous hunger and we would race across the street to one of the campus cafeterias and eat our weight in Chick-fil-A waffles fries.  One evening we were just stepping out of the Bubble (as the gym was called at UT) and as we began across the street Stephanie went flying face first onto Andy Holt Avenue.  A trip to the ER followed in which Steve and I watched an awards show on the waiting room television while waiting for Steph to be bandaged and released.

But that was umpteen years ago and the wedding was the first time the three of us were together since our school days.  It's amazing how time passes so quickly and if you're not careful it can zip right past you.  Thankfully, regardless of how many miles are between us, we three have stayed close and had the chance to share this amazing day.  In a way I feel like we renewed our vows as best friends.  So, a second toast to the blushing grooms and a new toast to future mishaps together.  Cheers Steve and Steph!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Heathers: The Musical" or "Why I Love a Moviecal"

I had the best time last night at Joe's Pub.  Months ago I heard that a team of creatives including Tony Award nominee Laurence O'Keefe (Legally Blonde) and Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness) were putting together Heathers: The Musical, based on the 1989 film, and immediately got on the horn (in this case, Facebook) and declared that everyone in my circle was going to go with me.

With the kind of expectations I had set for the event it was entirely possible that I was going to be disappointed.  But this amazing cast, which featured Annaleigh Ashford (Legally Blonde, Wicked) as Veronica and Jeremy Jordan (West Side Story) as J.D. along with an amazing trio of Heathers played by Jenna Leigh Green (Wicked) as Heather Chandler, Corri English as Heather McNamara and Christine Lakin (Reefer Madness) as Heather Duke, totally lived up to everything I had hoped for. And while Director Andy Fickman (Reefer Madness) wasn't part of the cast per se, he did provide biting and witty stage directions while periodically reminding the audience that "it will look awesome in a fully-staged Equity production."

Fully-staged or not, the show was a blast.

Several friends scoffed at the prospect of seeing "another movie turned musical" and complained that "there's no new stories" and "I don't want to see what I've already seen... done poorly".  Well friends, I scoff at that notion.

Movies-turned-musicals are a part of the fabric of the American theatre. Take for instance the following:

  • All things Disney - Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid
  • Billy Elliot
  • Catch Me If You Can*
  • Cry Baby
  • High Fidelity
  • Legally Blonde
  • Nine
  • Nine to Five
  • Shrek
  • Sister Act*
  • The Wedding Singer
  • Xanadu
  • Young Frankenstein
  • *planned for Broadway
And of course, many of our Broadway classics were based on other material to start too.
  • Cabaret was based on John Van Druten's play I Am a Camera which was based on Christopher Isherwood's novel Goodbye to Berlin
  • Damn Yankees is Faust
  • Guys and Dolls came from Damon Runyon's short story The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown
  • Hello, Dolly! came from Thornton Wilder's The Merchant of Yonkers which he later retitled The Matchmaker
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying came from a how-to book of the same name
  • Kiss Me, Kate was inspired by and uses the original Shakespeare play The Taming of the Shrew within its own story
  • Man of La Mancha came from Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote
  • My Fair Lady comes from Shaw's Pygmalion which Shaw took from Greek mythology
  • Oklahoma! came from Lynn Riggs's 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs
  • South Pacific came from James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific
  • The Pajama Game came from Richard Bissell's The novel 7 ½ Cents
  • The Wiz came from The Wizard of Oz (with references to both the MGM film and the original Baum stories)
  • West Side Story comes from Romeo and Juliet which Shakespeare himself based on the story of Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid's Metamorphoses
  • and of course, Wicked came from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
In the end, the old adage may prove true, that there are no "new" stories to tell... just variations on old ones that we revisit, reorder and retell from time to time.  

Aside from the problem of "we already saw that" there is the second issue that many commercial producers have to consider.  If you're piling tens of millions of dollars into a Broadway musical, you want as close to a guarantee as possible that some people will want to see it... and the familiar starts to look like a safe bet.  "Did you like the movie Legally Blonde?  Then you'll love the Broadway musical!"  I believe it is far easier to get people into a show if you're offering them something that they can relate to.

So go buy a ticket to a "moviecal" and enjoy.  I'm pretty sure you will... if you liked it's predecessor.  

Monday, September 06, 2010

"Park"ing Failure - The Governors Island Food Truck Fair

So, we went to "Parked" yesterday on Governors Island, thinking we were in a for a fun Labor Day weekend adventure.

We were wrong.

Starting out we were lucky enough to get to the ferry at the Battery Maritime Building at a decent hour, so the line to get on the boat wasn't atrocious.  However, as the line moved into the terminal the staff was clearly unprepared for the number of people vying for a taste of the food truck fest.  The orderly line soon devolved into a chaotic mess, with the ferry terminal staff arguing over the system and eventually telling the crowd to amass near the door to the boat. People who had been waiting longer, like us, where now just part of the mess and once the doors were opened the stampede pushed us, squeezing through the bottleneck, as though there was gold to be had as you boarded the ferry.

Once on the island we were directed to Colonel’s Row where the trucks were parked, only to discover that some thousand people had already made it there and were corralled into massive lines.

We filed into place in the line for Hallo Berlin and waited some 20+ minutes when, realizing the line wasn't moving, Ren headed to the front to see what was causing the clog.  Turns out only one person was serving under the white tent and so each order was taking several minutes.  We scouted around, considering the other trucks in attendance (Red Hook Lobster Pound, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Hermelinda Mexicana, Kelvin Natural Slush Company, Rickshaw Dumpling and The Cinnamon Snail) but saw that the lines were as long or longer.  In particular, the Red Hook Lobster Pound line spread beyond our own line and far behind the beer stand.  Weighing our options we gave up.  Our 40 minute subway ride plus 20 minute wait at the terminal plus 10 minute ferry ride plus 20+ minutes of waiting for German sausages that were slow coming resulted in over an hour and a half of stomach grumbling hanger.

We cut our losses and decided to explore parts of the island that we'd missed previously... and to search out the regular food carts that we knew were dotted around the island.  After tromping around for a bit we ended up near St. Cornelius Chapel where we found a lovely Greek husband and wife team who were thrilled to have customers who had drifted from the frustration of the "Parked" event.  Handing us our food with a huge smile we then enjoyed our lunch on picnic benches and breather a sigh of relief that we had escaped the crowds.

Getting home though was another matter.

The line for the ferry back to Manhattan wasn't so long, but the wait was.  The larger of the two ferries arrived, deboarded and then sat still at the dock for 20 minutes.  We could see the second and smaller of the two ferries leaving the Manhattan dock and heading our way.  After 10 minutes it too arrived at the island and deboarded.  Then the staff decided it should let the bicycles and pedestrians cross the exit path from side to side and then finally we were allowed to climb on board for the journey home.

All in all, a failed Labor Day weekend adventure.  The ferry system and the "Parked" administrators needed to be better prepared for the crowds.  So much could have been done to make the event fun and spectacular, but in the end it was a terrible bust.  Next time, we'll just go straight to Hallo Berlin's Hell's Kitchen restaurant and skip the madness.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Busted! Sleeping in the Girls' Dorm Room

I was going through some old boxes recently and came across my old student ID from MTSU.  As a senior in high school I had a very important decision to make.  I had to choose between going to The University of Tennessee which was only 40 minutes from home and a world-class leader in education... or going to MTSU which was 3 hours away from home but offered me the enjoyment of two of my best girl friends.


So I obviously went to MTSU.  The only downside to living in my 165 square foot door room was my assigned roommate.  Bubba, as he was called (and I kid you not) was what you don't want in a roommate.  The tallow tuba player (again, kid you not) kept a foot locker near his bed filled with Hostess and Little Debbie snacks... which was more than welcome except that I was forbidden to touch the savory sweets.

Over the course of the first semester I came to understand that Bubba and I were not going to make it.  His love of Speedracer, tuba practice and keeping the A/C at a frigid 40 degrees overnight (which led to several visits to the campus clinic for inflamed lungs) forced a wedge in our could-be friendship until I couldn't take it anymore and moved out at Christmas.

The girls (see above: best girl friends) were rooming together in a dorm across the quad but were looking to get an apartment off campus and we decided that our codependency was working for us and that we should all three move in together.

It would be hard leaving Bubba and his treasure trove behind... but I persevered.

We found an apartment about a mile outside of campus and quickly turned in our rent ($400 total per person for the spring semester in 1993 dollars - $603.49 in 2010 dollars).  The apartment was a dump but it was our first real place as adults and we didn't care.  But that's for another day.  (Stay tuned.)

For now we needed to get all of our stuff out of the dorms and into the apartment so that we could begin our grown up lives.  I stopped into the girls' dorm building and dropped of my student ID at the front desk (that was protocol to ensure that boys didn't stay overnight).

The move went smoothly but I forgot to reclaim my ID from the front desk.  Winter soon passed and the spring semester began... when suddenly I received a letter from the Dean of Students.  I was being put on judicial probation for "sleeping in a girl's dorm room".

I was aghast!  How could anyone think I was sleeping in a girl's dorm room?!  Didn't they know me well enough?  Wasn't it clear from my use of the word "aghast".  I mean, it either means I'm gay or a pirate (or both).  

I mean really... while both of my best friends were beautiful women, neither had the power to convert me to heterosexuality.  Just wasn't going to happen.  I wrote a strongly worded letter to the Dean explaining the misunderstanding and I think I was let off of probation after they saw that I signed my letter with a smiley face. I think.  I'm not sure to this day.  But whatever was done to my permanent record has had no impact on my present situation.  Maybe that little slip even gave me some unintended street cred with the school's administration.  It would explain the thumbs up I would get from unknown men and woman in their mid-50s as I strolled through the University Center.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Puberty 2.0

In the past 24 hours I've suddenly had an attack of puberty all over again.  It seems that acne has come back to haunt me after losing the War of 1993.

Adult acne (which is misleading because it is no more respectful than teenage acne and far more humiliating) is incredibly annoying.  WebMD has a deliciously horrifying definition for what is really just Mother Nature's curse upon the oily-skinned.
"At the heart of acne lies the pimple -- what doctors call a comedo. It's a plug of fat, skin debris, and keratin (the stuff nails, hair, and skin are made of) stuck in a hair duct. When it's open, we call it a blackhead. When it's closed over, we call it a whitehead. Whiteheads often cause the walls of the hair duct to rupture. This leads to redness, infection, and the papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts of acne." — WebMD
They say acne can be caused by stress.  I would love to know exactly what my skin has to be stressed about.  Brain?  Yes, it is stressed.  Body??  Hell yes.  It is also very anxiety-ridden.  But my skin doesn't have to do anything but stick to my muscles and bones and keep things out.  It even does this when I sleep, so the fact that it can be stressed is incredibly taxing... which causes my brain to work overtime, causing my body to work harder to support my brain... which causes my skin to freak out because it has to compensate for everything that my brain and body are doing.


Discovery made.  This body is all interconnected and if one part is having issues everything is goes all out-of-whack.  

Thankfully, because of the Labor Day weekend, I'm off for five straight days and I will be doing my best to de-stress.  Many days of quiet reclusion are just what the doctor have ordered.

Fingers crossed that these plagued pores will be good as new on Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Unwieldiness of the Water Bra

No, I didn't run into trouble personally with a water bra.  While getting ready for work this morning I was watching an episode of Will & Grace.  In it Grace gets a call from a former love interest who she thinks is calling because he saw a photo of her in the paper... and said photo makes it appear that she has a full bossom.  To avoid disappointing him she, thanks to Karen's nudging, buys a "hydro-bra" and wears it to his art opening.  Of course, thanks to the rules of the sitcom universe, she springs a leak and is exposed for being "shallow".  See clip below.

This reminded me of a disastrous encounter my mother had with her own water bra many years ago.

It is important to note that my mother was never one to be mistaken for having a large chest.  When the water bras were becoming popular she decided to indulge and see how she'd look.  She bought one and wore it several times without incident until...

While working in her store (a very small, boutique-ish perfume shop) she was suddenly overrun by customers at the counter.  Apparently a charter bus of tourists from Georgia had arrived at the mall and parked immediately outside her door.  Short-handed she went into power-manager mode and briskly moved about the counter pulling this scent and that cologne down for the ravenous customers who were happily handing cash in bushels.

At some point in her haste she must have snagged her top, piercing the bra just enough to cause a steady, yet minuscule, leak.  Being busy she didn't notice the leak at first.  It wasn't until some time later that she noticed that she had a thick, wet stain down the front of her sweater.  She didn't remember spilling her coffee and she didn't have anything saucy for lunch.  Then she realized that the wetness was oily and since she hadn't coated herself in WD-40 she knew that it must have been her bra.

The crowds had dispersed some but she couldn't leave the counter.  She shifted around, trying to conceal her newly deflated top (now drenched in the water/silicone fluid) behind boxes of Calvin Kelin and DKNY.  After an hour of personal-Twister she was relieved by her assistant and was able to sneak away to change her clothes.

And the moral of the story?  Be happy with what you have... because your attempt to make it "better" is likely to end in abject humiliation!  Granted... it is pretty damn funny... but still.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Future Faded: New York World's Fair 1964

Yesterday, Mike and I decided to trek out to see the old World's Fair park in Flushing toward the end of the 7 line just to see what was still around from this international festival from 46 years ago.

I had seen the iconic Unisphere and observation towers 13 years ago in Men in Black but had always wanted to see them in person. Places like this have a strange allure.  While their origins are partly forgotten (and structures partly abandoned) there is still life crawling through them as new generations discover them.

The park itself, nearly a square mile, was littered with families, soccer games and skateboarders (using the former fountains as skate parks).

At the center is the Unisphere was donated by the United States Steel Corporation symbolizing "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe." Since the theme of the World's Fair was "Peace Through Understanding" it makes sense that at its center the Fair offered this symbol of one world around which dosens of countries, states and companies "revolved."

The Unisphere is still a center of culture in Queens another major structure is now just a skeleton of its former self.

The observation towers were once the New York State Pavilion.    The towers once had glass "Sky-Streak" elevators which carried passengers up the sides of the towers.  Visitors could enjoy  refreshments while a third tower served as a private lounge for visiting dignitaries.  The "Tent of Tomorrow" was (and I suppose technically still is) a massive structure which featured a 130' x 166' terrazzo map of New York's highways underneath a tiled tent.  The map is nearly unrecognizable, heaving suffered the wrath of Mother Nature since the roof no longer exists to protect it.  Apparently the powers-that-be considered moving the map to the World Trade Center but that plan never came to fruition.  At various points since the fair it has been a skating rink, parking lot, dumpster and as a set for movies (Dorothy arrives in Oz and meets Miss One in The Wiz) and in music videos.  Now it sits alone, locked behind huge gates.

Next to the towers is the old Circarama theatre which has been, thankfully, saved from the same neglect that the towers suffered.  It is now the Queens Theatre in the Park and continues to offer visitors excellent reasons to visit the old pavilion today.

It was somehow equally beautiful and creepy to wander the park.  If you step just far enough in any one direction you suddenly feel very alone, almost time shifting to a point where you are the only person there, feeling the past and present collide around you.  Staring up at the towers you can, if paying attention, hear the laughter of children playing near the Unisphere, and almost imagine that those same cheers are coming from the ghosts of the past who were awed by the wonders of the fair.

Spooky? Yep. Gorgeous? Absolutely.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dawn of the Disaster... and then some

Let's cut to the chase... today sucked.

For the first time in weeks I got up early to get back into my old routine of going to the gym before work.  I have been feeling better and thought I could finally get through an hour and a half of fitness to prep for the rest of the day.

But no.  New York Sports Club had other plans in store... like not having hot water today.

After popping into the gym and having my key-bob scanned I noticed a sign posted next to the receptionist: "No Hot Water. Sorry for the inconvenience."  ARGH.  There was no way I was going to get sweaty and then take a freezing shower, no matter how hot it is out of late.  So, I turned on my heels and headed out the door.  It would be an early day at the office.

At work I headed into the private bathroom and changed into my work clothes which should have been the most pain-free part of the day.  But no.  I hadn't brought my work shoes with me and I was now stuck wearing my gym sneakers with my slacks and sweater.  And did I mention that my slacks were faded olive and that somehow I'd grabbed beige dress socks.

Looking a little like a circus clown I dropped into my chair and decided I could either go home, change and be late getting back to work... or accept the fact that I looked like a clown and pray that the rest of the day have pity on me.

I went with pity.

Things went fine until I headed home and was tricked by Luck into thinking I was in the clear when the A train was sitting, waiting for me at the 34th Street station.  "Thank you," I said to whatever being had finally had mercy on me.  I sat on a free seat ("This never happens!") and plugged my earphones in, ready to catch up on some podcasts for the next 40 minutes.

But no.  "Ladies and gentlemen, we are being delayed due to a problem ahead. We'll be moving shortly." Sigh.  But I wasn't ready to give up my seat so I stayed in place for a few minutes.  After about 10 minutes had passed the conductor came over the PA again, "Due to a passenger accident at 116th Street there is no uptown service on the A train."  That's it.  I left my seat and hurried down the stairs, through the passage and back up again to catch the C that was just pulling in.  Whew, made it!!

But no.  It was an E (which does NOT go where I need it to go).  But I decided to deal and take it up to 42nd Street where I could then switch to the C which would at least get me to 168th Street and much closer to home!  But no.  "Ladies and gentlemen, due to a passenger accident at 116th Street there is no uptown service on the A, C, B or D trains.  Passengers needing transportation to the Upper West Side and to Upper Manhattan should transfer at 42nd Street to the 1, 2 or 3 trains."

FAIL!  So, after a dismal trek through the 42nd Street station to the 1 I headed for home... only to then not pay attention and miss my stop 40 minutes into the ride.  

I think I'm giving up on today and going to bed. Maybe... just maybe... Friday will be amazing to balance out this craptacular Thursday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hey MTA... you want to take care of this problem?

After work today I popped onto the A train at 34th Street, found an empty seat (always a pleasant surprise) and began watching a podcast to occupy my time as the train lurched down the track.

At 42nd Street I was pulled out of my iPhone trance when I felt a sharp, stinging WHACK on the top and side of my head. I looked up to see this woman (see picture) teetering back and forth with a beer in one hand. Before I could react she threw another hand at my head (second WHACK for those keeping score). She couldn't even speak really... she just slurred her words and pointed at the gentleman standing next to her. He was appalled. Here was this man, maybe 50 years old, minding his own businesses while this drunk woman harassed me on his behalf.

"Excuse me?!" I was pissed. If she needed a seat she should have a) not been drunk, b) not smacked the crap out of me, c) not smacked the crap out of me a second time and d) asked me politely if she could have the seat.

She managed to garble something about the 50-year old, pointing to him and then to my seat.

"Sir," I said, standing, "would you like to sit down?"

He waved his hand and quietly said, "No no, I'm fine."

She then nudged him and pointed at the seat. "Stop hitting people!" I yelled. I don't like to yell but I'm not going to stay quiet while someone hits me (twice!) and then pesters another person.

She didn't like my tone and started towards me. I slipped between two other passengers and moved a few feet away, to avoid her advancing hands and to step out of what could have been a much uglier confrontation.

She then proceeded to hit several other passengers, including the gentleman who had been sitting next to me. He had his head down, not paying attention to the present situation, until she grabbed his hair. Shocked, he sat upright and pushed her away. She grabbed at his hoodie and he pushed her away. She then grabbed at a large book in his lap... and he pushed her away.

She moved on to another, then another and then another passenger. Finally, as we pulled up to 125th Street she moved again and, out of nowhere, she chest-bumped a large man who was standing off to one side. "Hey," he turned, attempting to move out of her way. Another chest-bump. "Hey! Seriously. Get off of me." (See video below. It's short since I didn't want her to see me filming and then have to deal with her a second time.) More after the video.

How are these drunken people allowed on the trains? Where are the MTA agents and police who we can turn to when we need help? The MTA continues to remove services while increasing our fares. For what I pay I'd love to have some sense of security that I can ride the train in peace without being physically attacked by drunken fools who would be better off in a halfway house.

Come on MTA... step up and help your riders out.

UPDATE at 10:59PM:
I was told my the MTA Subway Twitter account that I should have alerted a policeman or MTA employee immediately, however there was no one in the train car to turn to and to leave the train would have been moot since I would be off the train and this woman would have stayed on, riding away in freedom.

What other recourse do passengers have when situations like this arise when the train is in motion??

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Celebrating the end of Prop 8 with "The Birdcage"

Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, The Birdcage
Tonight, in celebration of the overturning of Prop 8 in California, Mike, Ren and I sat down and watched The Birdcage again... 

Back in 1996 when The Birdcage came out I was in my second semester of my junior year of college (well, year 3 of 5 anyway) and was a few months away from my first real performance in college... coincidently La Cage aux Folles.

I was still an art major and had been out for just a couple of years when, seeing the trailer, hurried to pick up my mom and take her to the movies with me.

I was a little nervous... here was this mainstream movie about two gay men, raising a son and dealing with the problems wrought when said son's fiancée invites her conservative, right wing parents to South Beach to meet the family.  The world had not had a huge number of major gay characters yet.  Yes, just a few years before there had been both The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Too Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar... neither of which were huge financial successes (Priscilla made $11 million in the U.S. while Too Wong Foo made a little over $36 million in the U.S.)  But The Birdcage, with its all-star cast and huge marketing budget, was able to make over $126 million dollars in the States.

And there I sat, with my mom, in a dark theatre in Sevierville, Tennessee, almost 21 years old, I realized that I was in a really amazing moment.  My mom, who had thankfully always been supportive, was laughing hysterically at the movie, dancing in her seat to the music and, after leaving the theatre, quoted quips like she'd had months of rehearsal.

She loved it and I loved that we had just seen this movie without any awkwardness (regardless of my early nerves).  Somehow I had anticipated weirdness where we would have to discuss whether I would have children, marry a drag queen or deal with homophobic Republicans.  But the worry was all pretend... I should have known that it was no big deal because my mom always made me comfortable being me (and encouraged it fully... even when I wasn't ready... more on that in a future post.)

So, after 14 years, it amazes me that our country has not yet fully embraced how normal it really is like my mom had.  But thanks to a logical and pragmatic justice in California we may finally be on the road to reality.  

America... we're getting there - step by step.  I just wish that our country didn't have to pussy-foot around.  If my mom were around today she'd likely be furious with our country and ask, "Why can't we skip the trailers and get on with the feature presentation?!"

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Troll Book Club -or- Finding Bunnicula

When I was in elementary and middle school I would sit at my desk, fidgeting, restlessly waiting for my Troll Book Club (now part of the larger Scholastic Books family) order form to arrive.  This thin, cheaply produced brochure offered me the chance to visit old friends in their continuing stories and to find new friends in the pages of amazing "young adult" books.

Of course, I always (with my mother's permission... and check) got a copy of the newest Garfield book and maybe a sheet of stickers.   I loved these Garfield books.  They were simply reprints of the comic strip but, being under 10, I rarely read the comics in the paper except for the Sunday full-color edition which I would grab as soon as my parents brought the huge paper roll in.

But it wasn't just Garfield... I discovered a collection of stories about a terribly unobservant family, their sleuthy dog, paranoid(?) cat and a mysterious new rabbit that may just be a vegetable-vampire.  (We'll talk about Count Duckula and his humorous take on this subject later.)

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery kept me glued.  The story, as told by the dog Harold, begins when his family brings home a young rabbit that was mysteriously left at the movie theatre one night.  The bunny has fangs, a black mark on his back which resembles a cape and, seeing as how the family was watching Dracula at the theatre where he was found, is named Bunnicula.  But the family cast, Chester, suspects that the bunny may actually be using his fangs to suck the life out of vegetables.  You'll have to read for yourself to find out what happens but be prepared... these stories (originally by both Deborah and James Howe and later by James alone after Deborah's passing) continue on.

I couldn't wait to get to the next books.  Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight.  The adventures of Bunnicula, Harold and Chester marched onward with me through the 80s.

But it wasn't until two weeks ago that I found out that James Howe had continued beyond these three beloved books!

In 1988 James Howe published Nighty Nightmare, followed by Return to Howliday Inn in 1993, Bunnicula Strikes Again in 1999 and finally Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow in 2006.

I wouldn't consider anything written here to be a review... after all, it has been over 20 years since I've read the first three books.  But a visit to the Strand might have to happen today.  If, by some magical means, all six books are there, they might have just found a new owner.  Finger's crossed that I can revert to a 7th grader before the weekend is over.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Too Darned Hot or A Tropical Heatwave!

When Cole Porter wrote these words in 1948 did he know that he would be cursing us to one of the most miserably hot summers we've seen since 1999 (yeah, not as impressive as "not since the summer of aught nine" but still).

"Too Darned Hot" performed by the 2002 UK cast of Kiss Me, Kate.

Between the melting asphalt and the reflective glass walls of the city's skyscrapers it can feel well above 100 degrees out.  I think Miss Piggy says it best (sorry Mr. Porter).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tommy, Carol, Carol, Tommy

Tonight I met my idol. From the first time I saw her on The Love Boat (alongside Ethel Merman, Della Reese and Ann Miller) back in the early 80s to the time when I was 10 and saw her as the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland I have adored Carol Channing.

As I grew up I came to love her as Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie and as a guest host on The Muppet Show singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend"as a duet with Miss Piggy.

I threw myself into her career, digesting cast recordings of Hello, Dolly and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I couldn't get enough.

Ever since I've been cuckoo for Carol. Any of my friends will tell you so.

So when I was invited by my friend David to join him on a VIP trip to the Barnes & Nobles at Lincoln Center I about fell out of my own skin. She would be talking about her new CD, For Heaven's Sake, whose proceeds are going to support arts in education.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

RuPaul's Drag U introduces us to Douglas Hodge Look-a-Like

Separated at Birth? Paya Larenta... meet Douglas Hodge
Broadway's "La Cage Aux Folles".
So, let's first make it clear that I love just about any makeover show... but add RuPaul and the queens from RuPaul's Drag Race to the mix and you've sold me for years.  RuPaul's Drag U is a hit... based solely on the entertaining premiere last night on LogoTV.

The show is pretty hilarious but also gives three women the opportunity to find their inner diva and use the power of their lost femininity to express themselves fully in their male-dominated world.

The three women were clearly in need of some serious dragulation (thanks for coining the new term Ru).   Each had a troubled life, feared what it was to be a woman (for their own very personal reasons) and had come to Drag U to see if there was any salvation for their lost womanhood.

With Professors Raven, Ongina and Jujubee on hand each woman was transformed into a dazzling diva of drag complete with rhinestones, glitter and hair.

In the end Celine Dijon won and her husband and children rushed the stage to hug their newly fabulous wife and mother.

But my win would have been Miss Paya Larenta who went from MAJOR tom boy to Broadway star in less than 60 minutes of television.  But watching her performance I couldn't help but think that I'd seen her somewhere before.  But where?!

THEN IT HIT ME!  She is the discount derivative of Douglas Hodge's Albin from La Cage Aux Folles!  (See image above.)  Seriously!?  You go Paya Larenta!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Birthday Week Bonanzas!

Me and Denyse.
Photo by Patty Allen
For my birthday a group of friends took me to Arriba Arriba for dinner and drinks and while watching the couple behind us make out was enjoyable the most fun was had with the mondo-sized margaritas (although we being the delicate few we are chose to go with the El Papá (12oz.) as opposed to the La Mama (27oz.).

But getting there was the bigger adventure. The temperature in midtown his 103 on Wednesday (thanks for the heatwave birthday gods) and the thought of a) walking the fifteen blocks or b) climbing underground to the even hotter hell-of-a-subway was horrifying. So we decided to grab a cab.

Easier said than done at 6pm in Midtown Manhattan.

After about eight minutes the birthday gods shined on us and a taxi-van pulled up to the curb. (Did I mention it was 103 degrees outside and we were standing on black asphalt between buildings made of brick and glass?)

Patty ducked her head in the cab, "51st and 9th?" ;The driver shook his head, mumbled unintelligibly something about four people versus five and shooed us away. Damn. We'd been smote.

Another ten minutes or so another tax-van rolled up... FIVE SEATS! Woohoo!

After a disastrous ride up town (the driver managed to pass the restaurant, cross the street and block traffic) we sat down at the restaurant and began to dish and dine, sharing in the kind of gossip that only friends can. In the end it was a fantastic night out and, even though I managed to sweat off my buzz before getting home, it was a good way to welcome the big 3-5.

Cut to today which was slightly less scalding and slightly more drizzly (little pockets of rain have teased the city all day long) but just as much of a good time. Mike took me out for post-birthday lunch and catch-up. We dropped into Burgers and Cupcakes on 9th for and enjoyed both items from the diner's name. It was insanely noisy inside but we managed to catch up on what each other have been up to since his return from tour.

P.S. If you don't read Mike's blog you should start now! It's hilarious and I don't mean that in the cliched, hyperbolic sense. It really is. Go, now... I'll wait.

Yay birthday!!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Pharmacy Tech Fail!

Image courtesy of Google Maps.
After a run along the Hudson today I popped into the Duane Reade at 42nd Street to grab some odds and ends... in particular I was in need of Claritin-D as it has been over a week and I can feel the spring air swarming my sinuses in the same was I imagine Sherman stormed Atlanta.  The pollen on the front lines marches on while the ragweed hangs back, high on its smog horse.  Somewhere a trumpet blares and CHARGE!

I digress... so I stop into Duane Reade and head downstairs to the pharmacy.  The pharmacist is busy filling someone's prescription so I wait a few minutes until a small lady in her official "DR" polo wanders over.  "You need something?" she asks.

"Yes, Claritin-D, 12 hour in the 20 pack box."  Unlike regular Claritin, you have to ask the pharmacy tech for Claritin-D because they need to decide for themselves whether you'll turn it into meth or crack or whatever idiotic thing drug addicts decide to do with it.

The tech looks behind her, directly facing the Claritin collection, and then just as I think she's spied the box (which I can clearly see from an additional 8 feet away) she slides past it and wanders into the Sudafed section (also a "we need to see your face" product).

"This?" she says, pointing at the Sudafed.

"No no, the Claritin-D, right there," I reply, pointing at the blue box with the tranquil field (see below).

"This?" She says, pointing to the 24-hour version.

"No, please, the 12-hour." Note that my finger has not veered from pointing directly at the box I need.

"Oh this," she says, grabbing the right package.  Finally!  "You need to sign for this?"  I confirm for her that, yes, I do need to sign her book to verify that I am who I am but even still, she wanders over to the pharmacist who is busy counting Viagra pills.  "He signs?"  The doctor confirms what I've already told her.  She comes back, grabs the wrong signature book.  "Not that one.  That one's for prescriptions.  Other one!"  He is only half watching her while he counts out the little blue pills for some other male client.

After a few minutes of this game of get-the-right-box-get-the-right-book she finally comes back and starts to scan.  BEEP!  The register rings in $22 and change.  BEEP!  Another $22+??  WHAT??

"Ma'am," I stop her, "you rang that up twice."

"Oh.... oh no.  I cannot void."  Hold up... what??

"Sorry," I'm baffled.  It's like I've been secreted into a Beckett play and will now suffer in Duane Reade Limbo for all eternity.

"I cannot void.  You buy two?" She's obviously pleading.  Maybe this is her first day.  Maybe she's been yelled at for repeat offenses.  Maybe I don't care because I'm hot, tired and ready to go home.

"No.  I only need one box," besides I'm pretty sure it would red flag me in their system if I asked for two boxes.  

"Ok, please wait," she says as she picks up the phone, "Manager to pharmacy please."  Click.  "Just one minute please.  Manager will come help."  

Ok, let me save you the angst of the 15 minute wait that I went through while she awkwardly talked to herself about how she should have rung up one box and "oh no, they will be angry".  Here I was, trapped in the Duane Reade pharmacy with Gollum worried about what the Hobbittses will think of her failure as a pharmacy tech.  "Oh no, my precious has keyed in wrong SKU and now has angered the Hobbittses."  HURRY UP LADY!

Finally someone in a white, short sleeve button-up shirt (that's how you know he's in charge) comes along, doesn't question her, turns a key on the register and voids out one box of Claritin.   He walks away, "Ok, now is better.  You run card."

I scan my debit card, pay for my meds and wait for the receipt to print.  "You want bag?"  

"No no, I will put them in my backpack."

"Ok, here is bag."  HELLO?  What is wrong with this woman?!

I take the bag, feeling like I've made my one attempt to save Mother Earth today only to be thwarted by the Sméagol of Duane Reade.

Whatever happened to service with a smile... hell, whatever happened to service?!?

Happy Fourth... after multiple fails.

It has been a long weekend.  Literally!  The Fourth of July means a long weekend away from work and the opportunity to find the most crowded mass of body odor and lawn chairs ever to grace 11th Avenue.

Our journey starts at 39th Street where we found a police blockade ushering the hordes north to 42nd Street.  You could peek down the side streets toward the Hudson and see people down there... but how had they managed to get through?

We pushed on, momentarily trapped between lawn chairs and children (holding popsicles, popcorn and every other possible snack item that their sticky fingers could manage) and finally pushed on through settling on the eastern side of 11th Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets.  It was 2 minutes to show time and we were ready... cameras in hand, enthusiasm abounding!

And then... BOOM!  "What the hell?" Patty spun in place, looking into the sky.  Another boom!  And another.  Soon the sky was shaking with booms, whistles, fizzes and pops.  We were only one block from the river and yet the two-story warehouse that stood between us and the pyrotechnic extravaganza was exactly the right height to shield us from enjoying the majesty of the Macy's fireworks display.  "Let's move!"  The three of us picked up and marched on, heading toward the corner at 46th thinking maybe we could catch something and not have wasted our time.

Even from the corner we could barely see a thing.  The best I could do was a raise-your-hands-in-the-air-and-snap-it-like-you-just-don't-care shot (see to the side).  The "walky man" symbol was brighter and more exciting than what I was able to catch with my point and click.

FAIL again... see Image A below.  But then, after deciding "Let's get outta here before the crowds start to move" we heading east on 46th Street and, suddenly, we had tons of room and a great view.  In hindsight this might have been the "duh" moment of the night.  But for us it was a sudden burst of genius!  So we enjoyed the show from our newfound haven and then headed home satisfied that we'd had the fun we had sought out.
Image A: View Fail                                                      Image B: View Success

Footage from our good point-of-view on 46th Street!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Addie Brownlee is a Rockin' Artist

I have the amazing benefit of being dearest friends with one of the most amazing artists in the music industry. She's smooth and sultry and yet hilarious and witty. I couldn't have been gifted a better or more talented person in my life if I tried. Take a listen to some of Addie Brownlee's music below and if you like her, which you will, visit her website to buy her CD and check out her page on Reverbnation to find out where she'll be performing next. I promise... you will laugh, cry and fall in love.

Why Hazmat Suits Should Be Worn on the Subway

Taken at the NY Transit Museum
My morning commute was interrupted by two instance of absolute repulsion. Granted, it is not shocking that a ride on the subway included moments of uncomfortability (foul aromas, howling babies, etc.) but today I was attacked by an entirely new level of WTH! In all my little subway adventures I've never been quite as appauled as I was by the behavior of the two riders who you'll meet below. Prepare yourself. And if you have a weak gag reflex... well, proceed at your own risk.

Let me first explain, for anyone unfamiliar with the subway, that there are two varieties of the A train.

  1. The Long Blue Bench: Seating consists of one long bench that stretches down the length of the train. There are no raised divisions (keeping butts in place) and you sometimes slide from side-to-side as the train lurches.
  2. The Howard Johnson: Seating on the HJ is made up of yellow and orange (hence the moniker I've assigned it). These seats have raised edges (again, keeping butts in seats). The most significant difference is that the HJ has L-shaped seating areas... a bench with 3 seats rests along the length of the wall and then a bench of 2 seats juts out. Add a table and you could sit down with four close friends for a breakfast of pancakes and OJ.
So, I'm on the HJ this morning, in the 3rd seat of the 3-seat bench and to my right is the 2-seat bench.

To my left, on seat 2 of the 3-seater, is a woman, covered in sweat, layered in tissues, coughing as though she had just swallowed a meatloaf whole. Why didn't I move? Because I was wedged in like one of 64 colors in a Crayola box and there was no hope of escape until the train thinned out some.

To my right, on the aisle seat of the 2-seater L shaped bench, was a sharply dressed woman with her Bloomingdale's bag tucked between her feet. She was elegantly put together so I felt a little better that maybe the universe was balancing out my plight of sitting next to Typhoid Mary by pairing her with this Lady Who Lunches.

Sadly, the elegance faded quickly.

Out of the corner of my eye I spy the LWL, fiddling with her hands. There was a sense of nervousness coming from her and, for a moment, I assumed she was afraid of getting tuberculosis from TM on my left. But as she continued fiddling it began to make me nervous and so I looked over to better see what the situation was. This was not a simple case of thumb twiddling. The LWL was peeling away dead pieces of skin from her hands and flicking those remnants directly onto my slacks.

(Insert immediate anxiety attack here.)

I bolted up out of my seat and apologetically pushed my way through the sardine crowd pressing myself against the door in the agonizing hope that the metal passage would split and let me escape the horror of the LWL with the zombie-like skin disorder.

Now I probably have typhoid, tuberculosis and some strain of flesh-eating bacteria. It's a nightmare. Someone send me a hazmat suit stat!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"March" Madness at NYC Pride

W Hotels offered some eye-candy
as they floated down the street.
Today was the NYC Pride March, part of Heritage of Pride (HOP). It's pretty amazing what a group of strong willed folks can do when they band together to celebrate freedom of expression.

From Dykes on Bike-Cycles to Flaggots, from Macy's to the Gay Peruvians Of The Americas the NYC Pride March had it all.

Last summer I stood for five hours in the heat, melting and developing a significant sun burn on the back of my neck. We stood at the corner of 6th Avenue and Greenwich and got a great view but there was no shade and the number of people massed around us (thanks to the wide sidewalk) was nearly unbearable. This year we managed to slip down to Christopher Street and Hudson, the last intersection before the parade ends. It was nearly an accident that we got such a great view. We'd strolled down from 14th Street and 9th Avenue (we'd been to the Apple store in the misguided hope that I could replace my busted iPhone). The conversation with their "genius" went something like this:

Me: Excuse me... I'm sure you don't but it's worth asking. Do you have any iPhone 4s in stock?
Genius: Um... (blush and giggle)... no. I don't think we have those.
Me: I figured. More will be available on July 17th right? At least, that's what the website says.
Genius: Um... (another blush and giggle)... I dunno. (She seems flustered.) I mean, maybe. I don't think we know.
Me: Ok. You've been very helpful. Thank you.
End scene. I mean, really... she wasn't even sure when they'd be available. I'm pretty sure that she could check on HER iPhone 4 that was carrying around. But I digress.
Undergear models buying lunch at a
sausage vendor. The humor is not lost.
Anyhow, from the Apple store we spotted the Pride street fair and, being both hungry and curious, we ventured in.

The fair was pretty sweet. Every vendor had something free to give you as you passed and I can't begin to recall how many petitions I signed to revoke this and to repeal that.

Starving, I decided to grab a $6 cannoli... yes, expensive but that's the nature of a street fair. Sadly it was the most horrifying over-doughed, ricotta cheesed filled abomination I'd ever suffered. A quick toss into the nearest waste bin and we were off to find a spot for the March.

Around 12:15pm we headed down Hudson and, although there were dozens of barricades ready to go, very few were put up. The crowds hadn't really gathered yet - except on one long span of Christopher Street which we decided was too painfully full to try to navigate. Instead we crossed the street and found, to our surprise, that the southeast corner of Christopher and Hudson was almost empty and had a great view of the March - and as a bonus it offered seating on the curb and bicycles locked immediately behind us so no one could (or should) cram up against us.

The anti-cramming didn't last but we didn't care. The March was fun, the costumes were hilarious and the sentiment was heartfelt. A good day overall... even if fixing/replacing my phone was a failure... but it's a minor frustration when you consider the struggle and perseverance that has inspired NYC for 40 years.


(Note: More pics are available on Facebook.)