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 fiancĂ©e 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?!"