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the great quake of 8/23/11...

...When its' tremors rode up the east coast, I was sitting in my boxers @ my kitchen table in Brooklyn, watching Craig Ferguson on the DVR. As the 1rst rumblings struck, part of my brain registered, "OK, this is freaky!" as another tried to reassure itself, "I guess a really big truck is passing by, rattling all the windows" but then I realized there was no sound, or for that matter, truck. & then the 2nd wave hit, the apt. really shook, & I had this strangely calm, disembodied moment, where I thought both, "Yup, this is definitely an earthquake" & also, "Should I run outside wearing only my underwear?" & then, just like that, 20 seconds later, it was over. In the stunned silence afterwards, I listened to a chorus of young girls' voices out on the street, but they just seemed to be ragging on each other about some earlier, unrelated social slight, & then my downstairs neighbor walked in not a minute later, talking on his cell phone, "So, I told him we could definitely have a cook-out over here..." & I wondered why the hell no one was mentioning the friggin' earthquake that just happened!!? It all seemed so unreal. & then, I went back to watching Craig Ferguson. Routine has a way of reasserting itself...

eat/pray/stuff...

...Roughly 5:30 PM, @ the corner of 5th ave. & 45th in Manhattan, a young Muslim fella who runs a kebab-&-everything-else cart is down on the sidewalk, praying toward Mecca on a makeshift mat of old food signs, his bowed forehead just touching one for hot dogs, which I'd hazard a guess is probably neither Halal nor Kosher!...
...4th of July, was up on the roof of my friends' apartment building in Queens, along w/a smattering of their neighbors, to watch the Macy's fireworks display. The big topic of conversation was how Bloomberg & "those people from Jersey--who don't even shop in New York!" have hijacked the display over to the Hudson River for the past few years. So, instead of its' traditional spot on the East River, where our view would have been truly spectacular, we only catch the upper tier of the fireworks through the Manhattan cityscape in the foreground, which gave the proceedings a vaguely apocalyptic effect. This one grizzled old Noo Yawker type straight out of Central Casting was really holding court, & said @ one point, "When we were kids & everyone had fireworks, you could blow yer finger off, & you'd wear it like a badge of honor. Then those goddamn liberals came along, &...grumble, grumble..." That's right, people, when you can't dismember yourself in celebration of your nation's independence, then the terrorists have already won! Let Freedom Ring! Or, at least, let it be a ringing in your ears, as you run around screaming, "My hand! Oh, dear God, my hand!!..."

you hung over my hang over!

So, the 1rst "Hangover" movie has a special place in my heart. I saw it opening weekend on a whim alone after work, cuz the thought of AC was appealing on a sweltering summer's nite & I had a good feeling about it from the commercials. But then the packed-house audience I was in went APE-SHIT. It was the definition of the communal movie-going experience. As the hulking, shaved-head black dude in the row ahead of me commented half-way through, "This shit is FUNNY!" I had a great time.

Finally saw "Hangover 2" tonite @ my favorite crap discount theater in Queens ($5 tuesdays!) & though it was w/a scattered audience of maybe 20, tops, I still gotta go w/a rating of...meh. It had plenty of fun moments (mainly supplied by Zach), but it was such a bald remake of the 1rst movie, w/out enuf ironic twisting/commenting on that fact, & (SPOILER ALERT!!) they dealt w/the kid getting his finger cut off in such a bizarrely casual way. 1, they threw away a perfectly good comic device in them having to hold on to the finger & keep it on ice the whole time, & 2, if you don't take that route about getting it reattached, then I at least expected the kid to tell off his dad toward the end, something along the lines of "I never wanted to be a surgeon/concert cellist, anyway--I finally feel free!"

Instead, when the father confronts him about it, Ed Helms launches into a speech about how "I'm just a part of this crazy wolf pack" & deal w/it, old man, & the father gives him the, "yer alright, son!" look...Hollywood pap schmear all ovah da place, but w/out any proper emotional ballast...

& that extra-bland-white-dude-left-over-4th-member of the "wolf pack"? He must feel slightly humiliated how he was awkwardly shoehorned into the plot. I originally suspected that maybe he was the 1 who had dosed them, in revenge fer the 1rst movie, making him a villain, but at least that would have been a twist! I mean, seriously: Is that asking too much?...

justified luv...

So, I'm a big fan of "Justified" on FX--great show. It's basically a modern Western; a dark, nuanced meditation on the archetypical gunslinging law man--plus, it has a killer theme song. I've been behind on my blogging duties lately, but I'm here to report that a few months back, I show up for a gig of my friends' awesomesauce band, the Herbert Herbert Hoovers (http://www.herbertherberthoover.com/). They're playing @ yet another random Bowery hot-spot called, "Crash Mansion" which seems to belong in the title to some lost Scooby-Doo episode, but is actually a decent place. & there's this kick-ass opening band doing a blend of blue grass & hip-hop, & I think, "Huh. They're doing the "Justified" schtick--good schtick!..." & then, in the you-could-call-it-that green room, I tell Joe from the Hoovers, "These guy's sounds pretty damn good!" & he sez, "Yeah, our promoter set us up w/them. Apparently, they do the theme song to some hip cable show..." & I'm like, "Justified?" & he's like, "Yeah, that's it" & for their closer, the band launches into a super-extended version & my mind is officially blown!! This is band-mill Manhattan, where various club owners & promoters cut & paste disparate acts together for maximum turn-out @ will. It happens any # of times on any NYC block on any given friday nite. I show up to see my friends' band, & I get this by accident? OK, I've asked this before, but I'll ask it again: What are the friggin' odds?!!...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXKSuHuYslU

low range grifter...

...A while back, I was off to see my fav friends' band, the Herbert Herbert Hoovers
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Herbert-Herbert-Hoover/368766260858
@ a club on Bowery on the Lower East Side Side, NYC. Andy (the guitarist) is struggling to drag equipment to the back room where the gig will be @. Struck by an originally pure altruistic impulse, I ask, "Do you need a hand?" to which he replies, "Well, you could carry Dan's (the drummer's) cymbal kit..." & then the light bulb goes off, & I'm like, "Yeah, yeah, give me that shit!" & I sneak past the door man in plain sight looking fer all intents & purposes like a member of the band & escape a $10 cover charge, "Huh," I realize. "I just pulled off a short grift!" & am inordinately proud of myself for the rest of the nite...The Hoovers rocked, as always, BTW...Sorry to siphon off some of their income, but a fella's gotta cut corners where he can...

fugitive luv...

1 of these days, I'll get around to writing an essay about the old 60’s TV series, "the Fugitive;" how it represented a very American microcosm of themes & dreams particular to its’ time. I never saw it growing up, but discovered it in reruns on a local cable station when I was home from college & working a summer job many moons ago. A couple of my friends got into it the same way @ the same time, & we bonded over its’ heady mix of 60's cars, fashion & atmosphere. I’ve recently rediscovered it on DVD, thanx to Netflix & the joys of online reserving w/the NYPL (support yer local library!!), so it’s sorta become nostalgia about nostalgia. It was a very square show, could tend toward old school, overblown melodrama, but had an entrenched sense of liberal morality which is refreshing by today's standards, & when it was in full-on suspense mode, it really cooked. It's basically an update of the old Western trope (mysterious stranger blows into town, solves some problems, but must always move on) that "the Incredible Hulk" w/Bill Bixby totally cribbed. Plus, 1 of the small joys of re-watching it is the endless cavalcade of major & minor guest star character actors, ranging from, "Hey, it's that guy!" to some heavy hitters like Robert Duvall, Ed Asner, Jack Klugman, etc. & in 1 ep, a young Marion Ross (Mrs. C from “Happy Days”)--she was HOT!! More importantly for us Star Trek geeks, 1 ep had James Doohan as a kindly doctor w/a slight hint of his Scotty accent (he also popped up briefly in an earlier season ep), & in the ep I'm watching now, Deforest Kelley as a small-town drunken lout: "Hey, if I'm paying fer the booze, she wants to go w/me, buddy--you stay out of this!..." Oh, Dr. McCoy, you incorrigible soused so 'n' so!...

passing orbits...

A shaven-headed 20-something Latino dude in a suit jacket w/goatee is wheeling his make-shift, rickshaw-like cart loaded to the gills w/empty 5 cent deposit bottles in blue recyclable bags down Kent Ave. in Brooklyn on a night when downtown Manhattan is lit up unnaturally bright in the river's mist across the way.

"That's some hard work," I say as I pass him on the sidewalk.

"Yeah," he pauses. "Do you know what time it is?"

"I think a little after midnight?"

"Thanks."

& that's it. We're gone...

speaking illin' of the dead...

So, 1 of the accounts I go to for my plant-watering job is this high-end placement service for nannies, butlers, in-home chefs, etc. It's basically a mom & pop operation, except that it's run by 2 Jewish brothers. Today, I overhear this phone conversation 1 of them is having; turns out he's talking to their rabbi about some sort of memorial service for their father, who died over a year ago, & he's giving him background info for the eulogy, or whatever it's called in their tradition. Son 1 sez about his Pop, "Well, he was generous, to a fault. He would give you the shirt off his back, if he had the chance. Also, he loved to gamble. & he loved women; had a ton of girlfriends over the years. Oh, & he was a big pot head. He loved smoking grass..." Um, well, gods bless ya, but that seems like a very---honest discussion to be having w/yer local spiritual leader! I don't have a priest, cuz I don't subscribe, but if I did, I'd be pretty shy about giving that info out. I'd be worried about him narcing on my dad to the Almighty! But again & as always, gods bless us, everyone...

i robot, u screwed...

So, over the last few years, the MTA has been installing this female robotic tour guide into their PA systems on the subways here in NYC. She'll tell you things like, "Ladies & Gentlemen, the next Manhattan-bound local train is only...2 stations away." I've long suspected her of OCD, since she repeats the same information over & over again, incessantly. But sometimes, she gets garbled, & today, @ the 53rd & Lex stop, solemnly spouts, "...Gentlemen, the next Queens-bound local train..." etc., etc. Absorbed in my book but impatiently waiting, I look up & ask out loud to no one, "Gentlemen?" This gets a chuckle from the middle-aged business woman-still-retaining-an-air-of-hippieness standing on the platform next to me. "Gentlemen..." she repeats, ruefully. A glitch in the machine causes a brief, shared smile, far underground, & that's 1 of the things I still love about this city. Suddenly, we're waiting for some lost cigar smoke-filled "Men's Only" express, pulling in soon, & how long & how short women's freedom has traveled is revealed in 1 quick, distorted statement, & damn, ain't that robot PA sexist, & a traitor to its' own kind, to (re)boot?...

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