Monthly Archives: May 2011

Lame Adventure 192: Going Back to the Dogs!

As core members of the Lame Adventures Readership (all three of you) know, every so often, primarily in the warmer weather months, I encounter a pooch that rates a shout out.  Scout, the five-month-old Basenji puppy pictured below is the First Dog on the Street of the 2011 Spring/Summer Lame Adventures season.

"You get a two second window to get this shot of me, Sis. Don't screw up!"

Ling and I encountered him while walking down West Broadway in Tribeca.  After sharing a mutual “Awwwwwwww, he’s so cute” moment, we caught up with his master.  She informed us that although Scout’s a non-barking breed, he yodels.  I thought:

Me (thinking):  Wow, Scout and I share a character trait.

In my early youth forty-odd years ago, I took it upon myself to try out for the yodeling Olympics in my parents’ house.  Should I fail to make the yodeling team, I was also practicing crowing like a rooster.  Approximately fifteen minutes into my intensive inaugural training sessions alternating between yodeling and crowing at the top of my lungs my father bellowed:

My Father:  God damn it knock that racket off!  You’re giving me a splitting headache!  I’m warning you, just one more peep and I’m gonna knock your block off!  Do you hear me?  I’m not joking!

The urgency in his tone conveyed volumes even though I was never sure where my block was.  Yet, my desire to maintain self-preservation instinctively knew I did not want it knocked off, especially by a guy that excelled in gymnastics and wrestling in high school.  Thus ended my Olympic level yodeling and crowing practice sessions forever.

Scout’s master told us that his breed is of Egyptian descent, even though this little guy is actually a life-long resident of Tribeca.  She added that his favorite hobby is licking the pavement, a hobby I outgrew in sixth grade, adding:

Scout’s Master:  He’s a real garbage hound.

"You call it garbage, I call it treasure."

Currently, Scout’s enrolled in doggie daycare and that is probably a very good idea. According to The Intelligence of Dogs, a book about dog intelligence written by Stanley Coren, Basenji’s are the second least trainable breed.  If it’s any consolation to Scout, my family’s dog, Thurber, a Poovanese (that’s a hybrid Poodle-Havanese designer dog, or as some prefer, Dr. Frankenstein breed), did not even merit a rating although on many occasions, my niece Sweet Pea, has declared him:

Sweet Pea:  Completely untrainable.

It never fails that when I am alone with this incorrigible wildebeest, he will then take it upon himself to play my niece’s electric piano.   Whenever he plays Lara’s Theme from Doctor Zhivago, I think I’m somewhere in snowy Russia with both Ferrante and Teicher.

Scout was not the only special hound I encountered while pounding the Tribeca pavement these warm weather days.  Recently on Greenwich Street, I saw stately Hubert, the canine mayor of lower Manhattan.  Hubert was the only dog I photographed in winter.  A noble nine-year-old Alaskan Malamute, he manages to look warm on the coldest winter day as well as cool in the heat.  In my next life, I’d like to be Hubert, but I suspect I’m much more like yodeling Scout.

"What can I say, everyone wants to be me."

Lame Adventure 191: There Goes the Neighborhood

Former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is accused of moonlighting as a sex offender for allegedly assaulting a hotel maid, has found new digs following his prolonged stay in a Rikers Island jail cell.  DSK has moved into a TriBeCa townhouse located at 153 Franklin Street that happens to be spitting distance from where I work.

Thursday morning media circus across street from 153 Franklin street.

Actually, his followup home to a prison cage is two doors down from where I toil in tile.  That’s jet-propelled spitting distance.  In addition, I work on the fifth floor of my building, and his nest is three stories tall.  Even if I could powerfully projectile spit, my spit would just splat into the wall of the next building that stands at least five stories high.  Just thinking about all this spitting is giving me dry mouth.

I used to wonder who resided in that very swanky townhouse.  Sometimes I see a very sexy Vespa scooter parked out front.

It recently occurred to me that my new(ish) Jack Purcell badminton sneakers are in a colorway similar to that Vespa.

Vespa colored badminton sneaker, about as close as I'll get to tooling around in a Vespa these days.

According to The New York Times:

“[DSK's] new home is a free-standing three-floor town house in TriBeCa that was recently renovated by Leopoldo Rosati, and had been on the market for nearly $14 million. The town house features a rooftop deck, a fitness center, a custom theater, a steam spa bath, two Italian limestone baths, two Duravit jet tubs, a waterfall shower and a dual rainfall steam shower.

Under the terms of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s bail, he can leave his home only under limited circumstances, must be under 24-hour armed surveillance and must wear an electronic ankle monitor.”

Translation: it’s highly unlikely that I’ll glimpse my new day job neighbor tooling around on that Vespa in Jack Purcell badminton shoes, as he tries to beat this rap.  What makes me most want to beat DSK with a baguette for residing so close to me that I can almost smell him eating stinky French cheese with my D-cup nose is the fact that he’s going to be living like a sultan.  I know he has to reside somewhere in the interim and it’s not going to be at a Comfort Inn, but this overt indulgence in over the top luxury living is as gag-inducing as the accusations against him.

DSK stakeout on roof outside my boss Elsbeth's window.

Lame Adventure 190: Before and After Math

On the Friday before the Saturday that the world was scheduled to end, my sidekick Greg and I saw Bridesmaids.  Although I am a lifelong Woody Allen devotee, and I was equally dying to see his latest film, Midnight in Paris, I was also eager to see Kristen Wiig’s silver screenwriting star turn.  Therefore, I decided that a hilarious film about sisterhood written by two women should be the last film I see before the world falls off its axis.  Plus, I had the added pleasure of attending this yuck-fest with someone that shares my loathing of insipid, vapid, predictable, I-want-to-gouge-out-my-eyes-and-make-this-torture-end, chick flicks.

Greg and I both had a very positive feeling about Bridesmaids and Bridesmaids was indeed very positive.  It was wonderful.  We both liked it so much that Greg almost forgot about his sinusitis that had transformed him into a mucous factory.

The laughs were plentiful; the site gags memorable (my two favorites involve a bag of frozen peas and a defaced storefront).  The script was excellent.  At its core the narrative is very honest about women.  It’s both a hilarious and intelligent story that’s essentially about friendship.  It also has a nice balance of humor and heart with the added bonus of depth.  It’s refreshing to see women being genuinely funny and likeable instead of being ball-busting obstacles to the glut of idiot guys that are having lame brained fun behind their bitchy backs.  I look forward to seeing whatever Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo write next.

Fast forward to Monday.  After surviving the non-Rapture Coco and I bolt the grind, hop on a 1 local heading uptown to Lincoln Plaza Cinema where we finally see Woody Allen’s latest, Midnight in Paris.  Coco has an affection for Woody that she inherited from Grand-pappy Coco who was Woody’s transportation captain until he bought his rainbow in 1983.

We arrive early to score good seats, but shortly before the trailers start, a man the size of a Douglas Fir sits in front of me.  His massive bulk completely obscures my view.

Coco (whispering for she does not have a death wish):  Is that the Brawny paper towel guy?

Stay where you belong Buddy!

The seat to her right is empty.  I move.  I notice the next day at work that she is towering over me.  I feel reduced to the size of a lawn gnome.

Me:  How high are those heels you’re wearing?

Coco:  Five inches.  Sitting behind the Brawny man last night gave me the urge to be a giant.

Woody’s film is an exquisitely directed, shot, and art directed fantasy about Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson.  Gil is a successful screenwriter of formulaic Hollywood fare who is miserable in the present and struggling to write literature about a nostalgia shop.  After a dinner engagement, Gil passes on going dancing with his shallow fiancé and her blowhard friends in favor of wandering the streets of the city of lights solo.  At midnight a vintage limousine picks him up and transports him back in time to the Paris of his dreams, Paris during the Jazz Age.  Then, the film soars.  Gil encounters a host of legendary artists and writers and also discovers a kindred spirit in Adriana, an artist’s muse.  During his time travels, Gil has the time of his life.  The audience shares his thrills every time he runs into a legend.  I particularly liked Corey Stoll’s deadpan Hemingway.  Coco thought the one slight misfire was Owen Wilson, but overall we were both delighted that Woody made another gem.

Upon leaving, there was a crush of people crowding the exit.  We noticed a side door that no one entered.  Coco shoved the door open and I followed her into the night.  We realized that we were the only ones dashing up this hidden staircase.

Coco (elated):  We’re time traveling!

Me:  I hope we enter the era where the rent’s cheap!

We reached the top of the staircase where the world looked exactly like May 2011. To drown our disappointment, we visit our favorite hole-in-the-wall underground Moroccan watering hole, where we order a bottle of a $44 French red, specifically the 2009 La Vielle Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rouge.  The label is decorated with a hen and a rooster.

Talk dirty to me, Baby. Why did the chicken cross the road?

Our server confides:

Server:  This wine is from the lower regions of barrels where the wine at the top sells for $300 a bottle.

Coco:  You’re telling us that we’re ordering the bottom of the barrel.

Upon trying the wine Coco delivers the verdict:

Coco:  It tastes okay … it tastes better than okay.

Two glasses of better than okay.

We also order food, a number of appetizers.  Coco states:

Coco:  Let’s avoid the Lamb Cigars.  I don’t want to repeat the Snausages incident.

A few months earlier, at a downtown establishment, we ordered a disappointing tube-shaped meat appetizer that Coco forever refers to as Snausages.  At our Moroccan watering hole, we order the Lamb Meatballs.  Our server showers them with praise and then we’re served … the Lamb Cigars.  But … We didn’t realize this until the next day, when we are both at work and I share my epiphany about why our Lamb Meatballs were torpedo-shaped.  Coco beats her head on her desk.

Coco: Why did I not think twice about the lamb balls being shaped like lamb turds?  We weren’t even drunk!  There’s no excuse!

Me:  And another thing … About our $44 $300 bottle of wine … I found a place online in Staten Island where we can buy it for $6.99 a bottle or $83 a case.  That’s less than the cost of two bottles at our Moroccan watering hole!

Big deal.

Coco (fashion on the brain logic):  If the waiter didn’t know the difference between balls and cigars can we trust his statement that old cock wine is the leftover crap of Chateauneuf de Pape?  That’s like saying the fabric that’s leftover from a Valentino dress becomes an Old Navy dress!

Me (water on the brain logic):  Do you realize that’s more than a 650% markup?  Have you ever been to Staten Island?

Long pause.

Coco:  Time to go for a ferry ride!

Lame Adventure 189: Waiting for the World to End

As with most anyone with a degree of lucidity, I was very aware that Harold Camping, who my dear friend, Martini Max, refers to as “that mummified modern day Boris Karloff without Karloff’s charm,” predicted that the world was scheduled to come to an end this past Saturday at 6 pm EST.  This was one hour before Milton and I were going to the Public Theater to see the latest play written by Tony Kushner with the catchy title that’s almost as easy to recall as page 37 of BeowulfThe Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.  Milton and I had been eagerly awaiting this play for at least two years.  We had purchased our fourth row dead center $20 tickets (Public Theater membership; an excellent deal) the second they went on sale last January 6.  Therefore, the timing of Judgment Day was incredibly inconvenient for us.  My sidekick, Greg, noted that the world’s end would start with a big rolling earthquake.

Greg (reasoning):  Even if it does happen, you might still be able to get your play in.

Greg raised a valid point considering the integrity of New York’s many dedicated thespians and this production was featuring some of the best, Michael Cristofer, Stephen Spinella and Steven Pasquale.  Anyone acting in a Tony Kushner play must be someone supremely devoted to the stage.  Kushner is one of the greatest living playwrights of his (coincidentally, Milton’s and my) generation.  If the world was destined to come to a grinding hellfire and brimstone halt at 6 pm, where should we be?  Milton emailed me:

Milton’s email: If the world is gonna end at six, that’s not when you’d want to be on the subway.

Excellent point.  Milton and I decided to meet at 5:30 at B Bar over on East 4th Street.  B Bar is also a short walk from the Public Theater, and an establishment that grants Public Theater members like us a 15% discount.  Even though the world could be checking out, why pay more?

Appropriately, this was the last ad I saw on my last subway ride – an N train, when I exited at 8th Street.

Reminder to heathens like me.

Here is the second to last ad I saw.

Head's up to sushi eaters like me.

I photographed it because I thought the goldfish’s implied use of a scatological term was inappropriate if I had a seven-year-old child.  Then, I recalled that I have never spawned and the only child in my life, my niece, Sweet Pea, is pushing seventeen.  If she doesn’t utter “shit” by now, that would worry me, and make me think we do not share blood.

Saturday was also a very humid day.  As I was waiting for Milton outside B Bar my hair was doing Full Bozo.  When he arrived he said:

Milton:  Your hair’s so wide today, from behind I thought you were a different person.

It’s capacity to expand that Saturday was actually more terrifying than the world ending.  Although I had originally intended to have my tresses colored and pruned that day, I never made the appointment, not due to the pending possibility of it being doomsday, but I want to look a little less lousy when my sister, Dovima, visits me in June.  My body may never be 30 again, but my hair can still pull off 20 after my colorist and stylist work their magic.

Once inside B Bar we were given a booth across from the toy trucks.

B Bar's wall of toy trucks.

This prompted Milton to reminisce about his long lost boyhood:

Milton:  Do those trucks bring back memories!  I got so many of them when all I wanted was Barbie.

Usually, I order a glass of wine with a meal, but with the planet on the verge of collapse, I decided to live large and order a Mojito.  Milton decided he’d have a Pear Mojito.  I grabbed the drink menu out of his paws and yammered enthusiastically:

Me:  What’s that?

I saw Milton’s Pear Mojito on the menu and added:

Me:  That sounds good.  I’ll have one, too.

Milton ordered our beverages.  A short while later, our waiter returned with what looked like Mimosas to us.

Mystery cocktails with Milton praying patiently in the background.

Milton:  What’s this we’re drinking?  It seems like a Mimosa.

Me:  I hope it doesn’t have any orange juice in it.  You know my gastroenterologist has forbidden me from drinking o.j. … But I suppose if the world’s about to end, what does it matter?

Milton:  I’d still like to know what the hell we’re drinking.

Me:  Let me handle this.

Milton:  Don’t ask the waiter.  He’ll think we’re idiots.  Hey you, “We don’t know what we’re drinking!”

Our waiter returned.

Me:  We’re not complaining about our drinks.  They’re fine, wonderful, we’re pleased.  We’d just like to see the drink menu again.

Waiter:  Certainly.

Our waiter hands me a drink menu.  I read it.

Me:  I’ll be damned!

Milton:  What does it say?

I hand the drink menu to Milton.

Me:  We’re drinking Pear Mimosas!

No Pear Mojitos here!

Milton:  What made you think we were ordering Pear Mojitos?

Me:  The power of your suggestion?

Then, my sister, Dovima, who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, calls me on my cell phone.

Dovima:  It’s already tomorrow in parts of the world.  The rapture’s not happening today.  Enjoy your play.

And we did just that.

Lame Adventure 188: Back by Popular Demand

This is Carl the Helpful.

Carl the Helpful

He is currently working as a security guard this wet and rainy week in Duarte Square located on Avenue of the Americas at Canal Street in lower Manhattan.  He’s one of the guards making sure that nothing stupid happens to an installation by designer and architect, Fabio Novembre, that was originally called “Per fare un albero” (“To make a tree”) when it was first displayed in Milan in 2009.  This installation has also visited Rome, Paris and Madrid.

Fabio Novembre and friends; just another day at the office.

When I walked past it with Coco on a recent Tuesday night, I nearly threw out my neck when I saw it.

Me: Hey Coco, look at that!  It’s the new little Fiats!

Coco: Trees are growing out of them!

Cars as pear tree planters.  Very cool.

A tree grows in Fiat.

When we got up front and personal with the fiberglass replicas of this whimsical little car, the Fiat 500C, I experienced a Proustian-style sense memory of the white almond wedding favors my mother and grandmother would spend days of their lives wrapping in tulle.  My only participation in this ritual was to taste-test a few of the almonds.  Since this installation was guarded, I resisted the urge to take a bite out of a fender.  That would surely classify as “something stupid” requiring Carl the Helpful to spring into action.

Carl told me that this installation is back for a second time.  As he said:

Carl the Helpful:  It’s back by popular demand.

Canal Street angle.

Apparently, it was first displayed in Duarte Square in April during the New York Auto Show.  I noticed that there was an empty space where another car could have fit.

Sixth Avenue side car-size hole.

Me:  Shouldn’t there be another car there?

Carl the Helpful:  Yeah.  Last month, there were eight.  Now there’re seven.

Me:  What happened to the eighth one?

Carl the Helpful:  I don’t know. When they came back, they only had seven of them.

Maybe some fat cat New Yorker like Donald Trump ate it.

Looking down 6th Avenue.

Carl told me that this installation is going to be removed after this Friday, but he would not mind if the run is extended yet again.   Even though he’s been standing in the rain, he likes this gig.

Carl the Helpful on guard duty.

Once the cars go, the trees will stay.  They’re part of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and New York Restoration Project’s Million Trees NYC campaign.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Carl will be tagged to guard the trees.

Fiat has posted a music video featuring Vivaldi on YouTube promoting the relaunch of the 2012 version of this classic compact car.  The beautiful people gracing it are sold separately.

Lame Adventure 187: While pondering litigation in front of a crackhouse-style doorway …

Not far from where I work in Tribeca is Staple Street, two short blocks west of Hudson Street sandwiched between Duane, Jay, and Harrison Streets.  Staple Street is one of those impossible to find places in this giant metropolis, but I’m familiar with it since I’m drawn to the impossible like metal to magnet.  I also knew that this was the ideal location for my sidekick, Greg, and I to shoot a video birthday card for our friend, Albee, provided we managed to avoid arrest for disturbing the peace. We did, but by our third take, every dog in Tribeca was barking and someone was too shy to scream:

Silent Screamer:  Shut the hell up!

That someone was compelled to hammer lead pipes with religious fervor instead.

Picturesque pedestrian bridge on Staple Street that does not appear in our video.

Although Albee was not expecting a gift from either of us, which was a sane expectation since Greg and I both work get-rich-slow jobs, Greg is a musician and I am just a spewing fountain of creativity.  Therefore, I felt we had to do something, but what?  Then, I had a brainstorm.  I would shoot a video of Greg on my obsolete first generation Flip video camcorder playing Happy Birthday on his saxophone in front of this graffiti-covered doorway on Staple Street.

This must be the place doorway on Staple Street.

When I initially ran this stroke of genius by Greg, he did not do the Toyota jump.  He stood paralyzed holding a tile label and looked rather expressionless.

Greg (mulling): I’ve never played Happy Birthday on my sax before.

Me:  Then play it on your sitar.

Greg:  No, I’m not going to bring my sitar into work.

Me:  Okay, play it on your harp, your xylophone, your castanets …

Greg is massively musical.  He thought more about it and decided that playing it on the sax was the way to go.  Then, he told me something interesting:

Greg:  You know, Happy Birthday’s not in the public domain.

I did not know that.  Greg is right, but luckily for us, we don’t make a dime off Lame Adventures, and we’re both inclined to live on the edge.

The origins of Happy Birthday is as follows, in 1893 two sisters Patty and Mildred J. Hill published the melody, Good Morning to All, which scored a big hit with the children Patty taught in her kindergarten class in Kentucky.  Mildred was a pianist and composer.  The kids were so taken with that song they began to sing it at birthday parties where they changed the lyrics Patty wrote from:

Good morning to you,

Good morning to you,

Good morning, dear children,

Good morning to all.

To:

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday dear (insert name here)

Happy birthday to you.

Fast forward 118 years to today where the Time-Warner Corporation now owns the rights to this traditional song, especially the lyrics.  They’re like the mob; if you sing it in a restaurant and they find out, they’ll come around trying to extort a chunk of change.  In 2008, they collected $5,000 a day from the singing of this song, or $2 million per year.  Strike up the theme to The Sopranos.  Better not for that surely is not in the public domain.

Many legal minds that tower over mine intellectually, or just anyone that did better in math, think (not necessarily in these words) that this is a steaming pile of crap.  Many logical thinkers, including Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, believe that this song with it’s long history of problems over authorship (think about it, anonymous five-year-olds essentially revised the lyrics from Good Morning to All to Happy Birthday), and problems with the notice and renewal of copyright, makes it no longer under copyright.  That means it does belong in the public domain, and should not be a cash cow for a media conglomerate that charges sky-high for Internet and cable.

Yet, to play it safe, my inner weasel is compelled to declare here and now that what Greg actually played for Albee in front of that crackhouse-style doorway on Staple Street was a free jazz version of Good Morning to All – and that coincidentally happens to be in the public domain.

Give jazz-man Greg a listen:

Lame Adventure 186: I’ll Sneeze to That!

As one can see from this sneeze chart created by my friend, Coco, illustrating the 546 sneezes I sneezed between the 365 days starting with my birthday on May 4, 2010 through May 3, 2011, I am capable of sneezing fairly steadily most months.

One thing I did not sneeze at was when I approached Coco to take all the data I had collected about my sneezing over the course of the past year to create this chart.

Sneeze Diary at start of this count in May 2010.

Sneeze Diary, worse for wear, May 2011.

Me:  Hey Coke, do you know how to create an Excel spreadsheet?

Coco:  Yes, I do.

Me: Great!  Can you whip one up for Lame Adventures?

Coco:  You want me to create a sneeze chart for you now?

Some back-story here; the hour was fast approaching midnight and we had been watering ourselves for the better part of six hours … A week later my loyal clotheshorse friend, who has spent years in retail therapy, resisted to make good on her threat to turn the bullet points into little Louboutin shoes, created this mini-masterpiece depicting the year’s worth of snot and mucous that has flown out of my face over the course of the past twelve months.  What a woman!

Although whenever I glimpse myself full frontal naked, I am reminded why I am not a fan of the aging process, I highly recommend keeping a sneeze diary to anyone who dreads growing older for it will make you crave the arrival of your next birthday, even if it includes more flab and liver spots, with the enthusiasm of a sleek tween.  Within days of beginning this idiocy, I ascertained that keeping track of a year’s worth of sneezing was a supreme annoyance, especially when those sneezes occurred when I was not equipped with my pen and notepad, requiring me to make full use of my hole-riddled memory.  Now that a year’s worth of record keeping is complete, I can once again sneeze with reckless abandon like any other ordinary sneezer.

If I am talking on the phone and I sneeze, riding the subway and I sneeze, writing this blog and I sneeze, reading The New Yorker and I sneeze, watching a play or a movie and I sneeze, in a meeting with my boss and I sneeze, rounding the bases in a romantic moment just before sliding into home plate and I sneeze, I can be like all other ordinary sneezers, and forget about it.  Yet, during my year of sneeze counting, I was compelled to dig out my Sneeze Diary and immediately note that sneeze (or sneezes).

A word to the wise here, if any readers of this blog decide you want to count your sneezes, and there are signs that you’re on the brink of romantic fulfillment, but you sneeze at a crucial juncture, do not stop what you’re doing with your source of affection and note that particular sneeze at that particular time in your Sneeze Diary.  Simply said, bad idea.  Take it from one that’s been there and done that. Can anyone say, “Buzz kill”?

Upon reflection, my colleague, Ling, who has sat next to me for many years, and has heard more of my sneezes than anyone else, thinks there was very little margin of error in my count, or as Ling recently said:

Ling:  You really think you might have missed some?  You’re writing in that notebook all the time.

I will admit that I was somewhat obsessed with striving for accuracy with my count.  What I have learned about myself sneeze-wise is that like so many other allergy sufferers, I sneeze copiously during the months of May and October.  December was a fluke.  For the first twenty-two days, I sneezed a total of twenty-two times, but then I spent Christmas in Northern California and my sneezing jet propelled almost as soon as my flight touched ground in the Bay Area.  On Christmas day alone I sneezed twenty-four times, so clearly this jaded New Yorker is deathly allergic to happy holiday cheer in The Land of Granola.

2011 started relatively sneeze free until Monday, January 3rd at seven fifty one in the evening, when I sneezed for the first time this year.  For the next five months, I sneezed another 130 times.  55 of those sneezes occurred from April 16th through May 3rd.

Final entries.

What does any of this sneeze data tell me about myself?  It confirms what I always suspected that I am a steady sneezer.  Now, I can move on with my life … Maybe start a new sneeze-related count – how many boxes of tissues I shoot through a year?  Maybe not.