Friday, August 15, 2014

COMPLAINING ABOUT COFFEE SHOPS





beatniks ruined everything

Living in Brooklyn, as I do, one is surrounded by coffee shops. They all tend to blend into one entity, spread across blocks like identical spores from the same fungus. There are the same mismatched dishes, trays of artisanal pastries, and jars of loose tea. A clone of the same slightly overweight, bearded, greasy indie rock fan is always making bagels and sandwiches behind the counter. However variety does exist in the details. Two shops that look like twins sitting on opposite sides of the same block can have wildly different personalities, or at the very least, one will have less sticky tabletops than the other. People get attached to their favorite coffee shops and they become an important part of your daily routine.

I don't care. Complaining about coffee shops is cathartic. It is worthwhile. It is awesome.

(This post was written in 2011.) 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A podcast I was on

Check it out.

I was a guest on "Jason Sims Puts You In Your Place" which is super flattering, as it is one of my favorite podcasts.

Jason is a good dude and people should subscribe to his podcast, which is wildly interesting and typically has much better guests than I.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

INSOLES

Much like ALKA-SELTZER and good shower-heads, replaceable insoles are an item I came to appreciate far too late in life.

I placed too much faith in those who designed shoes. I assumed they knew what they were doing. Boy, was I wrong. People who design shoes spend an awful lot of time mixing mesh and suede, and deciding where lace-holes go. They make treads that look like Navajo rugs and  no doubt give hours to arguing the width of decorative stripes. An insider in Big Shoe told me that deciding whether or not the side of the sole had a raised logo or not caused weeks of debate.

All of this fuss over shoe designs, yet when it comes to the insole, it's usually just an unfinished piece of particle board. If you buy an athletic shoe, maybe you get a thin piece of burlap for cushion. This is no way to live.

Any corner drug store will have a supply of insoles, and suddenly you go from a Roman Empire era religious zealot traipsing across the rocky shores of Galilee in thin sandals to a middle aged playboy in the 1970's wearing calfskin slippers on a shag carpet. And only calfskin slippers. 

My job occasionally requires me to be on my feet for 10-18 hours at a time on the concrete floors of convention centers across the nation; floors that have been hard-baked by years of fluorescent lighting and pounded firm by the steamroller feet of a million drunken salesmen and sales rep and sales directors, all burning calories like coal furnaces trying to shuffles appliance fixtures or medical waste disposal systems to and fro between themselves. In the few years I have been on the convention circuit, I have slowly learned to always have a few items on hand and ready to go. The first is a full, cold water bottle, easily refillable and wide-mouthed like a mason jar. I will chug away at that cold wet stuff like a hillbilly drinking Coors. The second is cash, in large bills, as convention center ATMs are rare and expensive, and you never know when you will find a HOWARD THE DUCK 7/11 Slurpee cup from 1977 in Near Mint condition that you need to own immediately. (Trust me on this one, I've been in those particular trenches.) The third is insoles, trimmed and fitted into whatever stylish footwear you managed to remember to pack. Your feet will spend the rest of your life thanking you, if you always remember number three.

One year for Christmas I thought it would be a great idea to treat all of my friends to this amazing discovery, and wrapped up several dozen sets of orthopedic gel insoles in bright wrapping paper with little snowmans. This was truly going to be the best Christmas ever. Suffice it to say, everyone looked at me like the Grandmother they secretly don't really love. I might as well have given them tube socks or walnuts. All the odd looks and low appreciation paid off as the years passed, however, and all of those ingrates eventually confided, secretly, in the days to come, that those insoles were the best present they received that year.

Because insoles are AWESOME.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

AQUARIUMS

 
i went to see fish and then i made a movie

I love the big aquariums. The kind with sharks. Where you might see crusty old dudes in scuba gear scrubbing the glass, surrounded by catfish. PiraƱa and whatnot. Octopi.

(I also like zoos and aviaries.)

Hell, small, apartment appropriate aquariums are pretty cool too. When little kids have a tiny tank with neon betas swimming around, and they get all proud and proprietary...

That's pretty awesome.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

MY BAG

Photobucket

With the coming global super-collapse, and an extra-dimensional Lovecraftian apocalypse on the horizon, I believe it's important to prepare for an every-man-for-himself post-Rapture world. Much like Mad Max, all we will have to survive is the companionship of a mangy dog, and what we can carry on our person.

Knowing that this is what we all face, I have been acclimating myself to carrying a "go bag", with all the things I might need within. I am getting vital practice in shifting my center of gravity to accommodate an extra 40 pounds on one side, and developing shoulder callouses for the long march across the Wasteland, looking for clean water among the ruins.

My bag is a standard issue Brooklyn Industries Messenger bag. It is nondescript, but functional. Waterproof, spacious, and sturdy. I would recommend this model. I have no reservations in such a statement.

Photobucket
POCKET ONE

This pocket contains a small pair of wool cloves, fingerless. An iphone charger. Eyeglass repair equipment. Advil and alka-seltzer (see previous article). A chapped lip therapy item. A padlock. The padlock is for my gym locker, but I keep it in my bag all the time because Dungeons & Dragons has taught me that it is always handy to have a padlock nearby. So far I have only used for my aforementioned gym locker.

Photobucket
POCKET TWO

The other side of the bag is where I keep my pens, a Mag Lite brand flashlight, an extendable magnet, a Victorinox brand Swiss Army Multi-tool, a notepad, eight feet of coiled rope, and a small (but comprehensive) First-Aid kit. People routinely mock the rope and First-Aid kit, but those are easily the most frequently deployed items that other people need. Then they feel like Big Jerks for mocking me. I am a hero in those instances, just because I had a Band-Aid. A HERO.

MAIN POCKET:

Photobucket
Art Supplies. I don't draw for fun as much as I used to, but I do try.

Photobucket
A net-book and charger. This will not be as useful after the fall of civilization.

Photobucket
A novel (in this case, I am re-reading A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster), a sketchbook (again, I don't draw for pleasure as much as I used to, but carrying a sketchbook everywhere is a habit I probably won't ever be able to break), and a bandana. Bandanas are super useful. I always have a clean one handy, if possible.

This bag has carried biking supplies (extra inner-tubes, pumps, chain), water-bottles, granola bars, smelly gym clothes, extra shoes, shower and hygeine kit, comic books, prophylactics, tupperware filled with meals, sewing kit, keys, and anything else that might seem prudent in my many adventures. It keeps me prepared for the thousand little obstacles that face us between bed, sidewalk, train, bridge, sidewalk, gym, work, leisure, train, and back to bed. I feel naked without it. Fully nude, with my stuff on display, like some filthy animal.

And when the Great Old Ones come back from their waking slumber in the Outer Dark, witness the final battle between the God of Thunder, and Jormungandr the Midgard Serpent (he who eats the roots of Yggsdrasdil the world tree, since the dawn of time), and destroy us all in flame and desolation, I will be prepared to face the Cursed Earth, if I am unlucky enough to survive.

The Freemasons will have won their ongoing struggle to bring about the dawn of their three-headed tribulation god, and be distracted with Revelry. They will not help you. The Republicans will retreat to their ant-farm of bomb shelters, eventually starving after they allow the one remaining billionaire to eat all of their canned food, and the Democrats will be torn asunder in the indecision of trying to please everyone. The Bavarian Illuminati watch everything from the Dark Side of the Moon, after they are rescued by the Mothmen. They will not help you. There is only yourself to count on. So pack well, my friends. You will probably want a sword.

My bag is awesome.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

THE MANY BEACHES OF NEW YORK CITY



I have never considered myself a "beach person", in the traditional sense. Surfing seems like an alien pursuit, I rarely wear bermuda shorts, and I do not tan. I was raised hours inland, nestled in the hilly bosom of this Great Land's Appalachian expanse. Before moving, at age 18, to the Coastal regions of Our Splendid Republic, I could count my trips to the ocean on one hand.

I am still a human person, however, and the allure of sunshine, surf, sand, salty air, and scantily clad ladies is not lost on me. I am not cold-blooded. I have a heart. I understand that these are good things. My robot brain allows me some small pleasures in this life. Not all that is good turns to dust and ashes in my mouth. I like the beach.

New York is the city where I live, and it is a city that I know things about. I have spent many desperate hours exploring this stupid place, particularly Brooklyn, home of the Cyclones, Paul Giamatti, and Uncle Louie G's. (It is also, in recent months, the home of more single speed bicycles than I ever thought possible. The ride of choice among people with oversized sunglasses, tattoos of birds, and tight pants, these inefficient things vex me at every turn. It's okay to shift gears, you guys. Your calves and thighs will thank you for breaking convention with your peers this one time. Also, enough with the expensive, artisanal versions of shit like popsicles and pickles and doughnuts. And can we cool it in general with the arts and crafts already?)

Brooklyn is not primarily known for its beaches. College kids with cocaine in their ironic mustaches, and Mos Def probably top the list, while Coney Island is maybe in the top twenty. It is a disgusting beach, but if you like your swimming to come hand in hand with funnel cake tummy aches and Russian men with a pelt of back hair, it probably will quench your thirst.

Brighton Beach has less fried dough and other junk foods, and way more Russians. There is no better way to remind oneself of the fierce strength of the USSR's military than to go to Brighton Beach and see the multitude of amputees. Between the gorgeous girls with amazing nails and the hardcore men missing limbs, this beach is less about suntanning and swimming and more about mad respect for our former Cold War adversaries.

Rockaway Beach is on the Brooklyn end of Queens, and relatively easily accessible from both Boroughs. It is notable for it's proximity to Rockaway Tacos, which has earned a well-deserved reputation as being a destination joint for the best tacos on the east coast. With a belly full of tacos, Rockaway is mostly clean and wide and good for finding space to hang out. It is also on the same peninsula as Jacob Reis beach, which is a great spot that is usually not crazy crowded, and has some cool old municipal buildings, if you are into the architecture of old military facilities and whatnot. (Who isn't?)

There are more things to say but I am bored of this topic. Summer is almost over. It is better to enjoy beaches than write about them. Nevertheless, New York has some beaches that are awesome.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

SITTING AROUND LIKE A DUMB JERK



Most people I know stay pretty busy. There are lots of hobbies and activities and distractions to keep everyone from staring into the void. But sometimes it feels appropriate to just stop what you're doing, take some time, and just sit around like a dumb jerk.

Just stare off into the middle distance and sigh heavily.

I get really antsy if I don't get out and do stuff pretty regularly, or at least be semi-productive around the house. If I have time to waste, I will hop on my bike, or run errands, or write dumb blog entries. Something got hard-wired into my brain as a child that gives me panic attacks if I don't keep in some sort of constant motion; it's like I can hear my mom yelling at me to go outside when all I want to do is vegetate in front of the TV and watch syndicated re-runs of THE JEFFERSONS. Well, now I don't have a TV, and if I'm inside for more than twenty minutes without a reason I start to hyperventilate. It's a pavlovian reaction to sunshine that forces me to wander around aimlessly on my bike or risk severe depression. You win, Mom.

And so it is that just sitting around like a dumb jerk is a treat that I rarely get to savor, like eating a whole pint of ice cream. Or bingeing on fried pub food. Or sleeping through an entire night without waking up in a sweaty panic. As the cold embrace of the endless black grave approaches, I have found, more and more, that I can just plop down into an armchair and zone out, like that dude in THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW who gets dosed with some weird voodoo drug and gets buried alive. (That's what happened in that movie as I gleaned it from the video cassette box.)

Much like going to a dominatrix while coked up, this kind of waking coma can be terrifying and euphoric in equal doses. There is a "lost time" effect, where the day slips out from under you and suddenly five hours have vanished while you scratched your balls and wondered how much a used 1985 BMW might cost, and if you could repair it yourself if something broke down on a cross-country trip to the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. You wonder if it would be cost-effective to buy the used car, then abandon it on the west coast and fly back. Do you have to buy insurance if you're abandoning a car in Santa Rosa? Would the car have built in ashtrays? When did they stop building ashtrays into cars anyway? I remember people smoking in cars, but they always ashed out the window. Is that tacky? Smoking in general is kind of trashy these days, but dealing with ash and butts is particularly gross. My grandfather used to ash in the cuff of his pants. That was a pretty cool move, in a way, although I don't know that anyone under the age of 70 could pull it off. It seems really filthy. He had some sort of lung disease at the end, and required an oxygen tank, so maybe the cuffs of his trousers were not a high priority, all things considered. He sat around and stared off into space quite a bit. I don't remember him doing much else, actually, which might be why my Mom was so emphatic about me being active. It was either get outside and climb a tree or slowly descend into lung disease, alcoholism, and being kind of boring. Fair enough.

Of course she was correct, and like anything that is good in small doses, too much sitting around and doing nothing can turn you into a sack of crap. In a hypothetical situation that in no way represents actual people or events, let's say a live-in girlfriend of several years only wants to spend her free time vegetating like a sad stoner. It's a gorgeous day outside, and you want to hit the pool and maybe do ten miles on the bike, and watch a movie in the park. Hypothetical girlfriend doesn't want to leave the house, then goes on to spend the next eight hours in her pajamas illegally downloading music and talking on the phone with her mom. Days pass and she barely gets out of bed. No sunlight will touch her skin, like a vampire hiding in a tomb. Except this vampire sucks your will to live rather than your blood. SCARY STUFF.

As my friends get older, they get attached, married, with child, and gradually less and less likely to drop what they're doing at any moment and go to a random bar that allegedly has good nachos. With less people available for an impromptu hang-out on a Tuesday night, there is more time for other things. Reading lengthy fantasy novels, playing first-person shooter WWII video games, or updating blogs that nobody reads. After a while, though, all these things get boring, or repetitive, or deeply depressing. The only thing left to do is slump down into a chair, unfocus your eyeballs, and space out like a dumb jerk.



AWESOME.