Sunday, April 30, 2006

Why I Live Here

Why is it we that live where we do? Grand Design? Happenstance? Dumb Luck? Stubborness? Is it really "better" where we are? Or is "it" really better simply because we are there?

Portia serves first, and damned-near, no POSITIVLEY [sic] aces it.
God bless Brooklyn.

My Love Affair With Brooklyn

Umm, you live in Brooklyn? [Loser]
Ohhh. That's nice. [Not]
Is your family from there? [Why else would you live there]
No? You mean moved there? [Why??]
Hmm. Yeah, I had a friend who lived there once but now he lives in the City* [who wouldn't]
So, ya wanna meet for dinner in Soho?
[cuz that's as far south as I'm willing to go]
Where? Are you kidding? I don't even know how to get Brooklyn.

brook'lyn: Two simple syllables that could fill a book, or dozens. Venerated by some, dissed by others but no one is apathetic upon hearing its name.

Most everybody knows something about it. It's where the British nearly destroyed Washington's troops, the place where dem bums played before they left, the home of stick ball and open fire hydrants, where Woody Allen was born, W.H. Auden lived and Walt Whitman wrote ("I too lived--Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine.") It's where Son of Sam stalked its young couples, Tony Manero disco-danced his way out of its clutches, and riots following a blackout nearly destroyed its soul. Its nickname is the "City of Churches." It boasts it own language [Brooklynese], and one out of every seven Americans can trace their family roots through its streets.

But for all that Brooklyn is--and was--it is not New York. It doesn't teem with tourists nor have the cache of a Fifth Avenue, a Times Square, the Philharmonic or soaring skyscrapers. Yet, it has something New York doesn't have: It has neighborhoods. Real, honest-to-God neighborhoods that are steeped in tradition and language and history and smells. Nowadays, when New York's Little Italy is inhabitated by everyone but, when Times Square is run by Disney, and there are no Jews on Hester Street, Brooklyn remains the quintessential city of immigrants, Places like Bensonhurst, where grandmothers still live with their sons or daughters, and goombas frequent social clubs, Bay Ridge where you can pick up a pound of Irish bacon that isn't vacuum sealed or made by Oscar Meyer, Boro Park where men dress in black, wear big hats and sport tendrils, and of course, Little Odessa where the signs are written in Cryillic, and borscht is sold on every corner. Brooklyn is tribal, and it's the very the very reason that some people choose to leave it, and others of us choose to stay.

In this time of dizzying change, when streetscapes are transformed overnight, Brooklyn gives us passage back to the New York of stoops, and egg creams. As corny as it sounds, Brooklyn isn't just a place to live; Brooklyn is a way of life.

I haven't always lived in Brooklyn. In fact, even though I was born and raised in New York, and a mere 20 miles away, for most of my life I didn't know a damn thing about Brooklyn. Nor did I want to. Oh sure, I had been to Brooklyn as a kid when my parents took us to Coney Island or we drove through it on our way to New Jersey, but once I was old enough to "talk" with my feet, I avoided it at all costs. To me, Brooklyn was New York's step-child where people lived while waiting to leave. It was the stuff of merciless jokes, Brownsville, strong accents and where everyone lived in narrow, stuffy "walk-ups." No, no, no. Brooklyn wasn't for me, Manhattan was the place to be.

After college I took up residence on the Upper East Side, aptly named the "Silk Stocking District," and joined the scores of Manhattanites who believed that New York ended where its bridges and tunnels began. There I stayed for the next decade with nary a thought to that strange place across the river. That is, not until serendipity stepped in one glorious Spring Day when a friend "dragged" me across the river to Brooklyn.

Once we landed in Brooklyn, we walked along the Promenade, which has views of Manhattan that Manhattan doesn't even know it has, or as President Lincoln said quite rightly standing at the same river's edge some 150 years earlier: There may be finer views than this in the world, but I don't believe it. We roamed through neighborhoods lined with stately oak trees and century old houses, visited the Bard's garden, even managed to crash a party. I was smitten.

When it was time to head back, we decided to take the long way home and walk across the Brooklyn "they said it couldn't be built" Bridge. My first "crossing" but not to be my last. And that's where it happened. Somewhere beneath its soaring arches, its thick cables and sturdy towers, somewhere before the mid-way point of its span when I was still closer to Brooklyn than I was to Manhattan, I realized I had fallen "in love." I turned to my friend and said:

"You know what? I'm going to move to Brooklyn."
"Yeah, right, you'll never leave "the City."

A year later I did. That was 15 years ago, and I've never looked back.

I live in a place that was settled by the Dutch. I cross a Bridge that was designed by a German, and built by the sweat of unskilled Italian and Irish laborers working side by side. I ride in cabs driven by Russians, and buy my newspapers in bodegas run by Middle Easterners. I don't know if the people who live in these neighborhoods are legal or fluent in English, and I'll be honest, I don't really care. I like Brooklyn the way it is. I like the fact that Brooklyn is tribal. I like its texture and diversity, and the fact that there is still a pride in one's heritage. I like its scale and the narrow brownstones with flower boxes in the front but no elevators inside. I like that Trump hasn't crossed the river to erect gleaming high-rise apartment buildings that bear his name atop in yard-high gilded letters, and whose windows don't open. I admit it. I love my adopted hometown, and its scrappy, colorful, sometimes "in-your-face" persona, and I hope it stays that way.

Who knows. Someday, I may "choose" to die somewhere else but for now I can't think of a better place to live. There's an exit sign when you leave Brooklyn that sums up my feelings best, and in perfect Brooklynese.


So the next time you're in the City, do yourself a favor. Take the 2 or 3 subway to Clark Street and spend the afternoon in Brooklyn. It's only 25 minutes from Times Square but it's worlds apart. And when you're ready to head back to the Big Apple, take the scenic route across the Brooklyn Bridge's wood-planked pedestrian walkway. There are benches along the way, facing north and south (I prefer south) where if you time it right you can watch the western light bathe the steel and glass skyscrapers of Wall Street, admire the shapely silhouette of the Lady in the Harbor, or trace the lights of the Verrazano's string of pearls in the horizon. It's at this hour that the city is at its most magical. So go ahead, sit a spell. You too, may find that something special happens on the Bridge to Brooklyn.
___________________
* Brooklyn may be the fourth largest city in the US and one of the five boroughs in New York City, but to any New Yorker worth her salt, Manhattan remains "the City." When you live in Brooklyn or Queens or The Bronx, you may work in the City, or shop in the City but you will never live in "the City."

The Bridge

Between now and now,
between I am and you are,
the word bridge.

Entering it
you enter yourself:
the world connects
and closes like a ring.

From one bank to another,
there is always
a body stretched;
a rainbow.

I'll sleep beneath its arches.


--Octavio Paz
*****


Damn, girl.
Brooklyn, you take care of this one.
She knows your soul.


Where are the rest of you breathing?
Why?
I really want to know.

Conundrum








Taking into account the sincerity of our various libertarian and egalitarian leanings, why is it that bloggers don't bother to post on weekends?

Oh.

Never mind.

Dumb Move

“There will be two to three million people hitting the streets in Los Angeles alone. We’re going to close down Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Tucson, Phoenix, and Fresno.”

-Jorge Rodriguez, a union official who helped organize earlier protests.

***
I think this is one of the stupider things I've witnessed in quite some time. Nevertheless, it will probably add a new word to the Spanish language.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Great Escape


Heigh-ho regular Portia weighs in with this hilarious tale of modern day cat burglary:


I took the dogs for a walk the other afternoon, and stupidly forgot to take my apartment keys. I buzzed the super but no one was home. Sh*t. I called my guy but, of course, he was at work in #$*& New Jersey, and had a 7PM deadline with the printer. I thought about calling a locksmith but that seemed wildly excessive. So I went across the street to the park-- with the beasts in tow--and sat down on a park bench prepared to wait there until dark, or at least until it was a more reasonable hour to stop by my neighborhood pub.

After I read EVERY page of the Daily News, the Village Voice, and the free Gay Weekly (handed to me by one who believes he is both), I glanced up at my building and saw the neighbor, who lives below my apartment, raising his window shade. Most excellent: Someone else is not working in the middle of the day. Hallelujah!

Quick like a bunny, I tied up the dogs, ran across the street, buzzed his buzzer, and pleaded my "case." He let me in! Dumb, Irish luck, or worse: My neighbor is either guileless, or stupid. Who buzzes in a stranger after she asks permission to climb through your window because she "forgot" her keys?

Anyway, he opened his apartment door, greeted me with a smile, led me to the bedroom, and shaking his head, wished me luck. I laughed nervously, turned to the window, and that's when I spotted it: The biggest f&$%ing air conditioner known to man. How could this be? Three floors up from where I just spent an hour-- one floor closer to my apartment and a much needed glass of wine--and a %^&$ Carrier unit stands in my way? Heh. Maybe he wasn't as guileless, as I believed.

Bewildered, but undaunted, I looked to my new "friend" for help--or at least a screwdriver--but by then, he had left left the room. Say what? Who is this guy???

Not knowing whether I should be more afraid of the person waiting for me in the next room, or returning to the park bench until dark, I went into overdrive. I surveyed my options:

Window, AC, fire escape, weirdo, duct tape, tied up, no one evens knows I'm here, window, frame, weirdo, get the hell out of here, now...

Maybe, just maybe, the AC is unit is not bolted to the window frame. Please, please, please. More dumb, Irish luck: It wasn't. Oh, thank you, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I swear I will go to church every Easter.

Pushing aside my fears that the AC unit would crash to the sidewalk below, I threw open the window and squeezed myself through the small opening (no more than "two feet" by the average male population's standards) between the top of the AC and the bottom of the raised window.

Finally, on the other side of the biggest f&$%ing air conditioner known to man, I closed the window behind me, quickly climbed up fire escape stairs to my unlocked window, and squeezed myself into another "two foot" opening. Once inside, I grabbed my keys, ran down the stairs, collected the tied up dogs, and took the elevator back up to my humble--yet very penetrable--abode.

***
Well, done, Portia!
Now about that guy one floor down.....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hiatus

I had a wonderful week-long vacation from work. I boated, sailed, snorkled, fished, and generally conducted myself in pirate-like manner.

I also have a new appreciation for the inhibition associated with dark rum.

Now I have to pay for it.

I'm open to guest blogging if anyone wants to have their good name associated with this mess.

Shiver me timbers, mateys. Later.

Monday, April 17, 2006

This Space For Rent

Biff: Hi! I'm Biff!

Tammy: And I'm Tammy!

Biff & Tammy: We're Biff and Tammy and we're here to pump you up!

Biff: We know that you came here exxpecting to find a litter box full of insight from spd rdr!

Tammy: And maybe even a few laughs! By accident of course!

Biff: Ha ha! You said it, Tammy!

Tammy: Ha ha! Yes, Biff! I did!

Biff: Anyway, while spd's away in the Florida Keys,

Tammy: We'll be here to fill your needs!

Biff: Two! Four! Six! Eight!

Tammy: Premature ejaculate!

Biff: What? That's not how it goes, Tammy!

Tammy: Oh yes it does, Biff. Every time!

Biff: Please Tammy! Not here. Not in front of all these people!

Tammy: I'm leaving you, Biff!

Biff: I'll never let you go, Tammy!

Tammy: Put me down, Biff!

Biff: I love it when you salute, Tammy!

Tammy: That's "sayonara" to you, Biff!

************************************


Green: What a couple of freaks!

Blue: You said it , Biff.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter






There once was a note, pure and easy,
Playing so free, like a breath rippling by.


-Pete Townsend

Saturday, April 15, 2006

An Easter Tail

Once upon a time there were three little bunnies....











Mabel: Look at him! Always having to be Mr. Different From Everybody Else! Mr. I'm So Special!

Maud: I know, I know. Just because he's the white rabbit, he thinks he's too good to eat from the bowl like the rest of us.

Mabel: What the hell is this stuff we're eating anyway?

Mabel: I don't know. It looks like mouse turds.

Mabel: That carrot looks yummy.
Maud: Yeah.

Mabel: Well, maybe we should try, you know...

Maud: Try what?

Mabel: You know, try and move closer to the carrot. Maybe get a taste.

Maud: ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND? Look at the size of that creature!

Mabel: Yeah, I know. But it doesn't seem to bother Benny, and these mouse turds taste like... mouse turds. Let's give it a try.

Maud: Okay, but you have to go first.

Mabel: Why me?

Maud: Because it was your idea.

Mabel: Will you promise to come right behind me?

Maud: Of course! I've got your back, girlfriend.

Mabel: Okay, then. Here goes nothing...

Five minutes later:







Mabel: Help! Help me Maud! Somebody help me!
















Benny: Did you hear something, Maud? It sound like someone calling for help.

Maud: It's nothing, darling just your imagination geting the best of you.

Benny: Where's Mable?

Maud: Mabel who? Now come over here big boy and let's make some bunnies.

The End.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday


Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lunchtime

Click for bigger.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Filler


Look, I know I suck. I've been busy,'k?
And the ramp-up to next week, whereupon said Easter Monday I disappear to go sailing in the Florida Keys with my Best Friends Ever, and whereupon said arrival in such paradise, I haven't a clue as to how I am going to get back, or when I am going to get back, or from where I am going to get back (is that the bestest schedule ever?) is causing some last minute difficulties WITH EVERY GODDAMN BODY IN THE WHOLE FREAKIN WORLD, I'm a little tense. How tense? How about I'd even crawl into bed with Yoko Ono tense?

You don't believe me? HA!
Watch. Watch and die, suckers!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!




Nice view.



Peace out.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Undercover Opera

Her career in preventing the transfer of materials useful to the nuclear programs of pariah states destroyed by the massive media response to the disclosure of her affiliation with the Central Intelligance Agency, Valerie Plame-Wilson found redemption in her transfer to the Miami-Dade County Drug Enforcement Unit.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Loose Lips


U.S. Forces to Storm Beaches at Normandy
"Insides Sources" Tell of Plan to Fool Nazis


Sunday, April 8, 1944

New York- The Roosevelt administration has been carrying out secret reconnaissance missions to learn about German fortifications, airfields, and troops strengths in the French province of Normany in preparation for a possible amphibious assualt there, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

The effort has been under way at least since last summer, Hersh said on Walter Winchell's radio show.

In an interview on the same program, General George S. Patton said the story was "riddled with inaccuracies."

"I don't believe that some of the conclusions he's drawing are based on fact," Patton said. "That &%$#@* is nothing but a $%@*&% *&^%#$. But don't quote me on that."

Nazi Germany has refused to dismantle its massive fortifications along the French coast facing the English Channel, which it insists are legal and are intended solely for civilian purposes.

Hersh said U.S. officials were involved in "extensive planning" for a possible attack -- "much more than we know." Although the exact timing of the attack is unknown, Hersh said "it looks good for early June."

"The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by bomber raids and short-term commando raids," he wrote in "The New Yorker" magazine, which published his article in editions that will be on newsstands April 17th. "Meanwhile the Allies are engaged in a plan to fool Hitler into believing that the attack will come at the Pas de' Calais, rather than further south at Normandy."

Hersh is a veteran journalist who was the first to write about many details of the Army's secret plan to build a "super bomb" in the Nevada desert capable of destroying an entire city.

He said his information on the Normandy invasion came from "inside" sources who divulged it in the hope that publicity would force the administration to reconsider.

"I think that's one of the reasons some of the people on the inside talk to me," he said.

Hersh said the government did not answer his request for a response before the story's publication, and that his sources include people in government whose information has been reliable in the past.

Hersh said Roosevelt, Vice President Henry Wallace and Secretary of War James V. Forrestal view Roosevelt's re-election as "a mandate to continue the war on fascism," despite problems with the U.S.-led war in Italy.

Last week, the effort to find concentration camps in Italy -- the Roosevelt administration's stated primary rationale for the war -- was halted after having come up empty.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Money Talks

Abbas calls EU not to stop aid - “Hamas will change”

PARIS - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to the European Union on Saturday not to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority, predicting “Hamas will change” its attitude to Israel.

Reminds me of something I once heard.

"Earlier today, for the first time, Yasser Arafat issued a statement in Arabic condemning terrorism. U.S. officials say the statement is a step in the right direction except for the last line which translates into 'wink, wink.'"
—Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"


I got a hundred bucks that says Israel won't change its attitude either.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Dead Bug







It's Friday.
Yay.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Meanwhile, In That Other War...

April 06, 2006

Navy ship returns with 61,000 pounds of cocaine

MAYPORT -- While most of the focus on the return of the USS Gettysburg from a six-month deployment was the reuniting of families, the ship's crew confiscated a record amount of cocaine while patrolling off the coasts of Central and South America.

The Gettysburg, working with the FBI, Coast Guard and other governments, confiscated 61,000 pounds of cocaine, worth almost $2 billion. The previous record for a Navy ship was 42,000 pounds from seven vessels, officials said.

Capt. Phil Davidson, the ship's commanding officer, commended his crew's "gumshoe work" in tracking and arresting drug runners.

Coast Guard crew on board the Gettysburg along with sailors and aviators from the Mayport-based Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 46 detained 42 people from the seven vessels.

In 2005, Navy ships and helicopters and Coast Guard detachments working under the Joint Interagency Task Force, seized 545,000 pounds of cocaine at sea and arrested 700 traffickers, said Lt. Jon Spiers, spokesman for the Mayport-based naval component of Southern Command.

******************************************************************

Damn fine work, sailors. Thanks.

Now go kiss your kids knowing how many you may have saved.

Liberty call, liberty call. Liberty commences by department at sixteen-hundred for sections 2 and 3 to expire on board tomorrow morning at zero-seven hundred. Now, liberty.





Have A Nice Day - Updated











Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

Here We Go Again


Go over to Red and Denton's place, and learn to believe again.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.

Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come."

*****
Thanks, Ray.

*****
UPDATE: Portia convinced me to add the mp3 of "People wiil come" to the sidebar. Now you can listen to it everyday of the season!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

This guy says to me, 'I have learned the art of the pitch. . .'


Every year, just about this time, I get all wrapped up in baseball movies, mainly because that's when cable dusts them off after a long winter's nap. The Pride of the Yankees, Bull Durham, It Happens Every Spring, The Natural, Field of Dreams, Bang the Drum Slowly, The Bad News Bears. There's something special about watching a movie about baseball that's almost better than watching the game itself.

But think about the game itself for a few minutes. Think about the way this simple game both requires and rewards individual effort and team play. More so than any other team sport, baseball is fueled by self-confidence. The game cannot be played without it.

Take, for example, the double play. There are few moments in life more spontaneously choreographed than the six-four-three double play. The short stop scoops the hot grounder and tosses it to his second baseman, who, in one smooth motion, catches the ball, taps the base, leaps high to avoid the determined slide of a frustrated runner, pivots in the air, and delivers the ball like a rocket to the outstretched glove of the first baseman. Watch it again. Bang. Bang. Bang. All the motions are practiced, but every movement is necessisarily impromptu. In any case, the whole ballet is all over in five seconds. According to the rules, there's only one double play allowed per inning.

Whereas on defense it’s all about team practice and trust, on offense it’s all about one on one. There is perhaps no greater moment of confidence and loneliness, and no finer point between terror and resolve, than that experienced by a pitcher in those last moments before the ball is unleashed. Remember, all the pitcher has to do is to throw the ball past the batter and into the glove of his catcher 60 feet six inches away. But because of that guy standing there with a piece of lumber in his hand and a scowl on his face, each pitch is an invitation to disaster. Screw the fact that the batter has all of one-tenth of a second to decide what the pitch is going be, and another tenth to decide where to swing before beginning the stroke, while the ball is still thirty feet from the plate. Dude, it's all about Zen. (How the brain does these asonishing calculations may still be a mystery, but even the most clueless among us can second guess later.)The tension involved could power a city.

So just relax, remind yourself that the game is out of your hands, and settle back for the longest season. Curse the Yankees first, early, and often. And remember, whatever team it is that you're pulling for, they're probably not... um... gay.
Not that that has anything to do with anything.

Thanks to Portia, my least-hated New York Yankees fan, reminding me about the curious case of of Sidd Finch. It's about baseball.

God bless you.

We will bury you.

Go SOX!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Bachelor's Repast


Suppose your wife went away for a weekend with her girlfriends, and took the only youngin' that you might possibly have to provide guidance for, or in fact, had any hope of interacting with whatsoever beyond monsyllablic teenagerisms, what would you cook?

Ok. Starve is the first answer and pizza the second. But what if you actually had to cook something? Not for a bunch of people, like a Master of the Grill can easily handle given two days prep time. But when it's 9:00 p.m on a Friday, and you are the only guest, what do you whip up?

What else. The Kitchen Pantry Garbage Plate.

I got home late last night and put together a quick feast that even the most estrogen-challenged among us can easily acheive. First scour the fridge fo hidden leftovers. Finding none, proceed to the mud-room pantry, and there locate various foods missed in last year's can drive. Select. Open. And throw into pot. Cook. Put cheese on top and serve with Cheez-its and beer. In a pinch you can substitute Kibble N' Bits for the Cheeze-its. It tastes the same, and your dog will love the leftovers.

For those that need to follow directions here is:

spd rdr's Your'e On Your Own Again Bachelor Chili:

Three cans of Hormel Chili Without Beans - expiration date unknown, although I vaguely remember something about Chili Dogs and Brett Farve winning the Super Bowl- open can, pour off grease and add to beer, dump the remains into pot.

Add one can Goya Black Beans - last seen when I made soup from the ham bone left over from Easter 1998. Stir.

One can Kidney Beans. Hell, how old can these things possibly be? There's even a Zip Code on the label. Dump into pot. Stir.

One can Delmonte Diced Tomatoes. What the hell. There's a half dozen of these things in the pantry. Might as well get your vegetables.

One can Pineapple juice. Add to rum, and pretend Angelina Jolie is massaging your feet.

After the mess has been cooking for a while, go down to the garage refrigerator and seek out some really old Chinese food. In particular, look for the boxes that have white rice in them.
Dump whatever you find into the pot.

****CAUTION****
Over time , leftover Chinese takeout rice assumes the characteristics of kiln-fired brick. Inattention when adding said rice brick to rapidly boiling chili mess may cause a severe disturbance in local cleanliness requiring more than an hour to hose down the stove, backsplash, walls, floor, and assorted animals Nevertheless, even after such efforts, one must still expect to be informed, unbidden, by a teen aged girl whose room resembles an archeological dig, that your cleaning efforts have rendered the kitchen clean, but not "woman clean." Open beer. Swallow.
********
After the movie's over, or whenever, saunter back into the kitchen and check on the pot of stuff. If it is still not in flames, find a bowl and eat it in front of a) a western, b) a baseball movie, or c) a movie where everything blows up. Turn up the sound really loud and add Texas Pete liberally to get the full effect. Put some on your chili, too.

Fall asleep in your chair and wish your wife was home.

Fart freely.

Throw away the pot in the morning.

Best Use Of A Smiley Face In A Public Service Message