Monthly Archives: November 2011

Lame Adventure 254: Fa La Blah

Go away.

I am one of those types in the minority (?) that does not find the holiday season “the most wonderful time of the year”. I do go through the motions and participate, however reluctantly, as this recession drags on.  I was particularly skeptical when I heard the slick obscenely overpaid network newsreader claim that the billions spent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday might provide the tonic to lift the nation out of the economic doldrums for the long haul.  That sounds like false optimism and more spin encouraged by the network’s greedy corporate parent.  The pessimist in me thinks this spike in spending for the holidays is a fluke, many of these purchases were tossed on plastic, and the big spenders will be paying off their holiday debt through the first quarter or half of the new year.  So much for me donning my Lame Adventures economic analysis cap while eating potato chips — the food that fuels my brand of deep thinking.

I do send cards and I buy gifts, but since my wages were drastically slashed 20% three years ago and never reinstated, reducing what I clear now to little more than a potato chip, I can no longer afford to buy the gifts I’d most like to give such as a framed New Yorker cover that my cat-man brother, Axel, would love or the Kindle Fire that is at the top of my sister, Dovima’s, list.

Perfect New Yorker cover for cat lovers, "The High Life" by Mark Ulriksen

Yet, I feel an obligation to be creative and clever to offset my living on so much less when everything costs so much more.  This year, my siblings are each getting from me a pack of semi-chewed gum, but my brother’s also getting some lint I’ve been collecting since spring, and my sister, a pile of ashes in lieu of a Kindle Fire.  She will act like I’ve gifted her with a Fabergé egg, but he’ll probably ask about his puff of fluff:

Axel:  What does it do?

Me:  About as much as the heart in a box you gave me.

One of a kind box full of heart courtesy of my bro.

Yet, I do think that box full of heart is pretty cool.

My buddy, Martini Max, is bitten hard every year by the holiday spirit that eludes me.  This year, when I visited him over Turkey Day, he was elated to learn that he had had some deliveries on Turkey Day Eve to further enhance the ambiance of his bachelor pad. Pictured below is glimpse of genuine Fa La La Martini Max-style:

Mini Mad Men era tinsel tree.

Red vinyl She & Him singing carols on the record player.

Delivery # 1!!!!!!!!!!!!

How to make your home in New Jersey smell like a pine forest in Vermont.

Max opening delivery # 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Max opening his replica Santa head.

Max on his knees performing the "Santa please light up" prayer.

Leering Santa lighting up for Theda Bara.

Lame Adventure 253: The Cook, the Bird, the Dog, the Brother

With apologies to filmmaker Peter Greenaway, who I am sure was first and foremost on everyone’s mind this Thanksgiving, I spent my Turkey Day as I do every year freeloading off my dear friends, Martini Max, his sister, Dorothy Parker (DP) and their family.  Naturally, I am thankful for the things that matter most in life – the wheel, fire and stretch jeans.

DP the Cook making deadline.

Da Boid ... dead.

DP's dog Burkey playing dead.

The Brother: Martini Max post-eating dead boid.

Lame Adventure 252: Kiwi Appreciation

I was walking up Broadway on the Upper West Side when I noticed a massive bright blue sculpture outside the 72nd Street subway station.

No inhibitions on display here.

I wondered what this enormous spread-eagled blue blob was about so I walked over to inspect it further.

Rather bottom heavy.

This exhibit is a public art program featuring the whimsical sculptures by artist Peter Woytuk currently on display in Manhattan along Broadway from Columbus Circle up to Mitchell Square Park at 168th Street in Washington Heights.

A mother exiting the subway station with her son, a boy about seven or eight, insisted to the lad:

Mother:  Look!  There’s Flipper!

Flipper through the eyes of Fernando Botero?

Lad:  Why does the sign say kiwi, Mom?  Who’s Flipper?

Sign more noticeable to people under five feet tall.

Mother looks at sign, perplexed.  Another woman exited the station and she, too, assumed aloud that she was looking at an abstract version of the TV star dolphin boomers grew up with in the Sixties.  I thought:

Me:  If that’s Flipper, he sure got morbidly obese.

To younger Lame Adventures readers, Flipper was the Lassie of the Sea; he was raised by a single father with two sons.  This was the era of TV shows featuring heroic animals and mischievous offspring raised by kind, patient and understanding single parents.   No one was divorced and the single parents never seemed stressed.  This utopian family unit almost made me wish I was a half-orphan especially when my mother was bellowing at me to clean my room, stand up straight, or when we engaged in negotiation mom-style:

Mom:  Do you want a slap?  I’m warning you, that’s where you’re headed if you keep it up!

The perfect parents on these TV shows were always widowed. They never had a financial worry and were never grieving.  The deaths of their spouses were seldom explained, so with all the wisdom I have acquired forty-odd years later, I can only assume that these cheerful single parents must have had extremely crummy marriages to show no signs of remorse.

Back to the sculpture, no way was this sculpture of a dolphin. The lad with great reading and comprehension skills that his mother lacked since she failed to read the sign next to the sculpture identifying it as a kiwi, got it right.  This blue blob in a state of ecstasy is a bird, specifically a chicken-sized flightless bird endemic to New Zealand.  It has the distinction of laying the largest egg in relation to its body size when compared to all other species of birds.  It’s also an endangered species.  Weasels, dogs and cats love to munch on them.   Apparently, on the Upper West Side, idiots with black marking pens find scribbling on them irresistible.

Is this really necessary?

This sculpture, made from aluminum and weighing 18,000 lbs stands 12 feet tall and it’s 6 feet wide, so had it fallen off its base and onto the scribblers, they would have been flattened.

Lame Adventure 251: So Wrong It Can’t Be Real … Can It?

Many of my Lame Adventures have been pre-planned such as events I pay to attend with a member of my posse or events I determine I must check out on my own.  Other LA’s are spontaneous such as interesting sightings I discover on the street, mundane sightings I find interesting, and my favorite, serendipitous sightings.  Occasionally, I get elaborate — last August 24’s Stranger’s Day stunt and humiliating follow-up (Lame Adventures 221 and 222).  Recently a new first occurred, a Lame Adventure that just happened with almost a zero degree of effort from me.  It truly required minimal exertion.  I was in my sanctum sanctorum parked like a lump at my computer considering if I wanted to read about Demi Moore’s breakup with Ashton Kutcher until I remembered:

Me: I don’t give a rat’s ass about Demi Moore or Ashton Kutcher.

Instead, I proceeded to log onto Craigslist, click the Writing Gigs link, do a short scroll, and there it was — ding, ding, ding — the basis for this post.  Click the image below and check it out.

Real or fake? You tell me.

My first thought:

Me (thinking):  Huh?  What’s an APT?  Whatever happened to the lost art of simply spelling out what it is you mean?

My second thought:

Me (getting it):  What’s this got to do with writing?

A moment later it occurred to me that I should probably feel outrage:

Me (pondering):  Hm. [Insert a five-count pause to muster outrage.] What a pervert, douchebag, scumball, creep attempting to live out his chauvinistic  fantasy to degrade women — and with the gaul to do so in the Writing Gigs forum!

Next, I wondered:

Me (wondering):  Manhattan apartments aren’t cheap.  Is this offer open to women over forty that have only gone partially to seed?

Finally, while puffing hard on my Sherlock Holmes pipe, and following a prolonged coughing fit, I had a daylight moment:

Me (with light bulb shining above head): This is probably a prank!

Does anyone out there in Lame Adventureland have an opinion?  That post has been removed from CL.  Clearly, they had quite an opinion.

Lame Adventure 250: They’re Taking It Off, They’re Taking It All Off!

My colleague, Rhonda, told me:

Rhonda: You have to check out the people playing strip poker in the window of that art gallery over on Walker Street.

These folks.

This reeked of Lame Adventures.

Me:  What gallery?  Where on Walker Street?

The gallery is Art in General at 79 Walker Street.  The exhibit, happening between 10:30 am and 6:00 pm (but when I saw it, it finished closer to 6:30) through Saturday, November 19th, is a performance piece created by Zefrey Throwell called I’ll Raise You One … A group of three men and four women sit in the window of the gallery facing the street and play strip poker.

Playing cards littering gallery floor.

Throwell in baseball cap.

If you stand outside the window long enough behind the cluster of predominantly very appreciative men enjoying this cheapest of thrills — the performance is free and by the game’s end everyone winds up stark naked.

Shirtless guy.

Shirtless woman.

Several games are played throughout the course of the day, so odds are good that one can walk by the gallery at anytime and see someone in a state of undress.

Skirtless woman.

Even if the spectators were not standing outside breathing heavily on the window, I’m confident that the predominantly male audience I watched it with after I left work would still be inclined to give it a standing O, and when they returned home, a sitting Wank.

Losing her shirt and almost everything else early on.

If Throwell’s name does not ring the Marina Abramovic gong inside anyone’s head, last summer he organized Ocularpation: Wall Street a site-specific street theater piece on Wall Street.  At 7 am on a seemingly ordinary Monday morning as the sleepy masses were coming into work, 50 average appearing people that seemed to blend in with everyone else, began to spontaneously strip.  For some artists their medium is paint, for others it’s sculpture, and apparently Throwell’s is nudity.  By 7:05 the NYPD had ended that show with an unnamed performance of their own, that I call Mass Arrests.  Throwell has been a participant in these performances himself; he was a hot dog vendor in Ocularpation and currently, one of the card players in I’ll Raise You One …  Last summer he explained the message in Ocularpation to Melena Ryzik of The New York Times:

“It was “an educational attempt,” he said, “to lend more transparency to Wall Street, a street which is so damn mysterious.” Drawing on the common fear of appearing in public naked, he hoped to create “an absurdist Freudian nightmare” of nude employment: “Wall Street, exposed,” as he put it.”

Hm.  Part of me thinks that this chap is a publicity seeker living out his voyeuristic fantasies and getting paid for it.  The rest of me thinks:

Me:  So what?  He’s not murdering anyone.

Although I was not wild about the leering members of the man-on-the-street audience that blatantly viewed the women as objects and barked at them to strip faster, there were many other people that were clearly surprised and/or amused by the novelty of the piece.  They tended to chuckle and move on.

Steam heaters.

Courtenay, a very helpful gallery worker overseeing the audience, the performance, and the possibility of a return engagement by the NYPD (two cops visited briefly but made no attempt to close the show), confided that this exhibit has repeat visitors “that have stood outside for a very long time.”  Earlier in the day, the crowd is less male.  Throwell also freely pimps out himself and the other men that have volunteered to sit at the table so who am I to judge or object?

Throwell in his birthday suit.

The players are pretty evenly divided by gender.  If you’re offended, walk away.  I wasn’t so I didn’t.

Growing audience outside gallery. Their next stop, the Met?

Courtenay added that everyone participating is a volunteer Throwell either invited or they were discovered through a casting call.

Fun times.

A total of 50 people are playing cards in a rotating cast.  He had to turn people away that were willing to play for payment in free lunch, snacks and beer.

Partial payment.

According to the gallery’s site:

“Transforming Art in General’s storefront Project Space into a stage, I’ll Raise You One… establishes a world of absurdity and purposelessness, allowing the casual onlooker to participate in a guilt-free voyeurism, while teasing out a different outlook on our personal interactions and day-to-day routines. In a world where money has taken supreme importance and all functions of life are commoditized, I’ll Raise You One… is a project where clothing, charisma and a good bluff are the only currency. Using the language of small stakes capitalism mixed with America’s favorite gambling pass-time, and the flirtatious teenage party game of strip poker, Throwell draws a fluxus parallel between what we consider winning and losing in the world today.”

At least no one looks like they're cold.

While watching the show and thinking about it afterward, this explanation did not occur to me at all.  At the end, after the players tossed the cards in the air for a final time, everyone appeared to be happy on both sides of the glass.

The top 2 players.

It seemed to me that this risqué band of exhibitionists simply served as a tonic to help the audience indulge in a silly escape from these troubling times for a few moments.  Hey, no harm in that.

The top 2 players minutes later. Game over!

Lame Adventure 249: The Insignificant Mysteries of Life

As the regular readers of Lame Adventures  know by now, and first time visitors will quickly ascertain before bolting and never returning to this site, I am a shallow thinker.  Aside from this overt qualification to be a Republican candidate for higher office, my brain freezing, horn-dogging, clueless mind has been focused on matters other than solving the nation’s most complex problems with the most simplistic solutions that will render what remains of the tattered middle class fully shredded.

A portion of the shredded middle class sitting in my easy chair.

For example, over the weekend, my mind was focused on housecleaning when I discovered that a reverse-thief with terrible taste in clothes broke into my humble abode and planted four pairs of hideous pants in my closet.  I immediately donated them to Good Will where I had the following exchange with The Goodwill Clerk:

The Goodwill Clerk:  Would you like a receipt so you can claim a charitable deduction for your donation?

Me:  What I’d like is if you’d turn off the surveillance cameras, not to imply that these four pairs of ghastly pants were pants I purchased myself and actually wore in public during a period of extreme self-loathing.

The Goodwill Clerk:  Does that mean you don’t want a receipt?

Me: Touché.

I did consider donating a third black leather glove the reverse-thief, or possibly an overnight guest with a double life as a cat burglar, left in my lair, but I was concerned that someone such as The Goodwill Clerk might want to know what happened to that glove’s mate?  That is a logical question.  It did occur to me to respond with my own unique brand of logic that my mother often referred to as “jackass”:

Me:  Don’t you think this solo glove might perfectly accommodate a woman with a solo hand?

Yet, I suspected that that suggestion might merit a look that screamed:

Screaming Look:  Do I look like a fool you clown?

A trio of gloves.

Moving onto dogs, particularly those killing time, and fortunately not each other, in the window of the new Biscuits and Bath doggy spa that has recently opened on Hudson Street in TriBeCa.  Every single time I walk past this place Patti Page singing a novelty ditty that she recorded in 1953 called, How Much is That Doggie in the Window, fires up on my internal iPod.  I would so prefer hearing her sing something else, maybe Conquest, but my mind refuses to go in that direction.  Furthermore, these hounds are not for sale, which makes that song popping into my head every single time I walk past that window even more baffling.

Dogs in the window looking particularly envious at a dog on a leash walking past.

Finally, I’d like to know where the computer users around my cave acquired their wireless network names.  Specifically, I’m thinking about bettob, BoogusNet (I’d be inclined to wash my hands if I tried to piggyback off that network), right, and shefinds.   Really, folks, those are the most inspired names that crossed your minds?

Imagination reaching a screeching halt here.

My favorites on this list are Beaner and BeansInAPod; apparently this user has a legume fetish.  Animal themes seem to be popular, too, according to bunny, CleverCheetah, MiniTiger and my personal favorite, SQUIDWARD.  Then, there’s the resident faux Latin speaker, Lorem Ipsum, the wannabe porn star, Hungwell, and the guy that recently sat behind me in my neighborhood movie theater, ZZZ666, The Snoring Devil.  Finally, one insignificant mystery solved!

Lame Adventure 248: Who Are You?

Her name is Nina Arianda. She’s 27-years-old and the current “it” girl that has taken the New York stage by storm.  Currently, she is starring on Broadway as Vanda in the erotic comedy, Venus in Fur, opposite quite an “it” guy, Hugh Dancy.  Even his character, Thomas, during the acting audition that consumes almost the entirety of this 90 minute wild ride of a play-within-a-play adapted from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novella about a 19th century masochist, that’s cleverly written by David Ives (an “it” playwright), asks Vanda in amazement, “Who are you?”

Announcement: you must see the play to find out.  Sorry, no spoilers here in Lame Adventureland.

Yet, I can report with authority, holy crap does Nina Arianda have it!  Whatever “it” is, Milton and I sure know it when we see it.  We got quite an eyeful and earful.  Nina, coupled with Hugh on the boards, shares an ocean of “it” with him.  Milton and I, sitting in second row orchestra seats that we scored on the cheap last August, were in our bliss getting splashed.  Afterward, over a beverage, we discussed the perfect cast.

Milton (dreamy):  I never thought a man could look so good in a vee neck t-shirt.  You know, he and I made eye contact.

Me:  He looked in your direction.  He’s happily married to Claire Danes.

Milton sits, foiled.

Me (bragging):  But I did get Nina’s number when you were in the bathroom.

Yeah, right, in my dreams.  Three times a year over the course of 19 minutes total, I am mercy-pleasured by people of my own gender in orthopedic shoes with names like Dinah Ickberg.  Post-how-we-do-it, they usually announce to me that they’ve decided to undergo a dramatic religious conversion and will head straight to a nunnery from my love-nest with me shouting after them:

Me:  It’s okay to say, “Don’t call!”

Even if an endorsement from Lame Adventures only carries about as much weight as an ant’s testicle, Christopher Isherwood, the revered theater critic for The New York Times, backs me up with his review.  In the November 7th issue of The New Yorker, John Lahr profiled Nina.

He described the response of the play’s director, Walter Bobbie, to her audition for the part of Vanda.

Bobbie wanted to stop the audition immediately.  “She showed me how the play worked,” he said. “I was afraid someone would cast her by the end of the day.  It was that breathtaking an audition.  I don’t know how to explain it.  But when the real thing walks into the room you know it.” 

Venus in Fur, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, is playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through December 18th.