Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lame Adventure 295: Tree Trash Update

I was feeling perfectly fine and then I wasn’t.  The Unforeseen Demon of Surprise Illness paid me a visit for a few nasty hours on Monday evening.  During that period I completely lost my breakfast, lunch, several pieces of dark chocolate covered edamame, a few handfuls of some crunchy crap I scarf at my desk called Oriental Mix, a fig bar, and two glasses of a Happy Hour Cabernet I quaffed after work with my buddy Coco.

Colleague-approved Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Edamame.

During this episode of violent evacuation I coincidentally lost interest in everyone and everything that gives me pleasure.  The list includes (in no particular order) writing this blog, shooting pictures, sex, food, alcohol, comedy, tennis, dogs, Gotham City wildlife, The New Yorker, music, movies, theater and film. To put in perspective how incredibly lousy I felt, if all four Beatles would have magically appeared in the center of my sanctum sanctorum to personally serenade me, I would have slammed the bathroom door in their Fab Four faces and groaned:

Me:  Go away!

The next morning I woke feeling feverish with a pounding headache, wondering, “what the hell was that about” regarding a hallucination I suffered prominently featuring a bullwhip. I am not by nature the violent type. The last time I fired a rubber band, several years ago, it hit a wall and ricocheted into my forehead.  Wow, did that sting. Once fully conscious I emailed my boss Elsbeth that I was taking a sick day for I was feeling like shit on a stick.  Possibly I used the phrase “I’m feeling sub-par” instead.

I continued to rest but I quickly caught cabin fever and needed a fix of daylight.  I also needed to run an errand for bland foodstuffs.  As I walked up my block I noticed the now infamous Tree Decorated with the Hanging Trash.  Here are updated photos.

Bags still in branches eager for their close-ups.

The tree is starting to bud and as pictured below, both bags are in full bloom and still flipping off Mother Nature.

White fast food delivery bag hanging in there.

Fairway bag in full bloom in its dual guises: free advertising and litter.

It appears that rain is in the forecast for later in the week so she’ll very likely have the final say about the presence of these two eyesores.  They’ll probably blow into my open window for refuge.  Hopefully I’ll be back to feeling groovey by then. Stay tuned.

Lame Adventure 294: Trees and Trash

New York City takes countless punches for being too expensive, too crowded, too loud, too rude, too dirty, too etc., etc., but as I was recently strolling in my Upper West Side neighborhood at magic hour and I saw this majestic Dogwood Tree in full bloom in front of me I thought:

Me (thinking):  This is why I love my city!  It is the best!

The kind of tree I'd want to date and bring home to my family -- if their homes had higher ceilings.

Then, I just happened to turn away from this gorgeous blast of nature in the heart of Gotham when I got smacked upside the head by a tree behind me that was blooming in its own Big Apple snarky-style way.  A way that played into the typically negative New York City stereotype.

The fugly rude tree.

The casual observer might look at this image and think:

Casual Observer (thinking):  Are you smoking crack?  There’s nothing blooming on that tree!

I say:

Me: Take a closer look.

Are those barren branches decorated with trash?

Do you see? Here, take an even closer look.

An original way to pursue ad space: hang your ad off these branches?

Yes, this tree’s branches are blooming with trash bags.  One with the message, “Thank you,” and the other is from my go-to grocery store, Fairway.  Why these bags are hanging from these branches is a mystery to me.  Considering that the population of Manhattan Island is 1,585,873 (2011 data) and there are 69,467.5 persons per square mile, odds are good that on a land mass so dense with humanity, undoubtedly including many slobs, the naked eye is going to see a lot of crazy stuff – including shopping bags that somehow end up tangled in tree branches.

Possibly an exuberant sanitation worker overshot his garbage truck twice and these bags got caught in the branches or maybe a pigeon ate a steroid and dropped these bags to show off?  Does anyone else have an opinion about how they got there?  I suspect these shopping bags are going to be hanging around throughout spring and well into summer.  That’s okay with me. When I need to avoid ogling suspended litter, I’ll just focus west on that  Dogwood Tree — until it sets off my allergies, makes me sneeze my head off and I revise my thinking about how wonderful it is.

Lame Adventure 293: Missing Magazine Crusader

Most days at work I collect the mail in the first floor in-basket.  Most of the mail is addressed to my boss, Elsbeth.  A week or two ago I noticed the April issue of Harper’s magazine in our in-basket.

April issue of Harper's magazine.

It was not addressed to Elsbeth but I figured that Stu, her husband and the company founder, put it there intentionally.  It’s not my style to question what motivates him to do what he does as I am sure he welcomes my indifference.  Yet, had he left a live hand grenade in our in-basket I still might not have questioned Stu himself, but I would have been compelled to ask one of his Yes Men about that along with enforcing a dictate of my own:

Me:  One of you guys bring that up to her.

When I would reach my office wearing my Minister of Watch Dogging chapeau, I would go straight to my Lord and Master yapping:

Me:  Hey Elsbeth, one of Stu’s Yes Men is coming up here with a live hand grenade for us.  Do we really want that on our floor?

Questions like that to my superior either emit a twenty second long sigh of extreme annoyance or a short, sharp outburst:

Elsbeth:  No!

Apparently, the April issue of Harper’s that was passed onto her was not intended for us. Almost two weeks after I retrieve it Elsbeth asks me:

Elsbeth:  Would you like this issue of Harper’s?

I avert my gaze from the pigeon on the sill that appears to be mocking me and turn my attention to my chief.

Ha, ha, ha, I'm outside in the sun and you're behind bars!

Elsbeth:  The letter carrier delivered it to us by mistake.

The alarm bells ring in my head.

Me:  Sure.

Elsbeth hands me the magazine and returns to her office, satisfied that I accept her offering but I have a hidden agenda.  I look at the address label.  It was meant for a guy named David who resides two doors down from my company.  Every so often, the magazines I subscribe to, all with New York in the title – The New Yorker, New York Magazine and Time Out New York, go missing.  I have called my post office about this and complained.  As they insist that I did receive my issue of New York, I have to remind them that I want to know what happened to my missing copy of The New Yorker.  I have also directly confronted my letter carrier, a very nice woman when encountered face to face, but a side of me wonders if she would love to posit this question to my kisser:

My Very Nice Letter Carrier:  You crazy bitch, why the hell do you have to subscribe to every fuckin’ magazine in the world with New York in the title?

Yet, my letter carrier has made a better effort to deliver my magazines in recent months, but when an issue does go missing, if she happens to stick it in the wrong mailbox, does the neighbor that gets it keep it?  If so, I think that exploiting her mistake for personal gain is theft.  Therefore, I cannot in good conscience keep David’s issue of Harper’s.  If I can return his magazine to him, maybe someone that gets one of my misdelivered magazines will finally do a first in my building, in the almost 30 years I’ve resided there, grow a solitary brain cell of consideration and return it to me, the rightful owner.  The cynic in me, that coincidentally happens to be about 98% of my person, thinks I will sooner be the lynchpin that brokers peace in the Middle East on my lunch hour before that ever happens.

Back to David, I don my Detective Cap, type his name and address in Google, hit the enter key, and voila, I discover his email address.

I share the situation with my Special Someone.

SS: Give it back to your mail carrier.  Let them deal with it.

Me: Trust the incompetent mail carrier that caused this crisis?  I’d sooner give it to the Taliban.  Of course, those Neanderthals would probably use it as kindling.

I send David an email:

Hi David,

It appears that your April edition of Harper’s was misdelivered to [my company] a few doors away from you at [censored] Street.  Please let me know if you would like me to leave it with our front counter so you can pick it up?  I’ll put a post-it on it so people know that you’re coming to get it.

Eleven minutes later David emails me from his iPhone:

That’s very kind of you. Yes. Please leave it at the counter.

That evening, as I depart for the day, I notice that David’s issue of Harper’s is gone.  Hopefully, he had picked it up and I will not find it has boomeranged back into Elsbeth’s in-basket come Monday.  Hey, I want to accrue a few magazine subscription good karma points.

Portrait of a good week in Lame Adventures-land -- every magazine delivered!

Lame Adventure 292: Food Porn

One of my dear friend Milton’s great passions is cake.  The man can speak rhapsodically about long-shuttered obscure bakeries with the same degree of affection others reserve for a departed mate, relative or pet.  He can be merciless in his opinion about red velvet cake for that confection proves reliably disappointing.  One cake that consistently delivers his seal of approval is the Magnolia Bakery’s Hummingbird cake.  Unfortunately, I have searched my extensive personal photo archive of thousands of images that I have shot over the course of the years but much to my regret, I have yet to photograph a slice of one my buddy’s favorite cakes.  To fill this void, I am posting a picture of the Valentine’s Day cake he had made last month.

Yellow cake with white butter-cream frosting and strawberry filling.

I would like to add that he ate this entire cake himself in a single sitting at his desk at work, but I jest.  That is something one of the more dysfunctional nabobs at my place of employ would do.  Milton is very good at sharing with others, so  his colleagues very likely view him as “the cake guy”.  I am sure that he’s quite a popular and adored member of the staff.

Unlike Milton, I’m not much of a cake woman.  I like cupcakes, but I’m not a fan of a large slice of anything with frosting. Last month at work, to celebrate my sidekick Greg’s birthday, he wanted a chocolate banana layer cake.  I could barely eat half a slice.  It was a struggle to get down.  When I had given up I emailed an image of it to my Special Someone under the subject heading “I. Am. Stuffed.”

Burp!

Me: Jesus, what a dense cake!  I feel like I ate the Alien.  I did the best I could with my piece of it.

SS: LOL. That’s it?! I wish I had your petit appetite.

Me: Oh, cut me a break!  That thing is enormous!  It weighs as much as a Buick and feels like a Buick idling in my gut right now.

SS: I could eat half that [entire] cake and not look back.

Like Milton, my Special Someone has a sweet tooth for cake.  Although I am not much of either a cake or dessert fan, I do like cookies, in particular the legendary six ounce warm chocolate chip cookies that are baked fresh throughout the course of the day at an Upper West Side institution, the Levain Bakery, conveniently located just a short trot from my sanctum sanctorum.

If this picture was scented it would reek of the aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

During a casual email exchange with Special Someone, I mentioned Levain and sent her the link to the cookie portion of the site.  She thought their cookies looked amazing.  The next day we visited Levain so she could try one.  My favorite is the traditional chocolate chip walnut variety, but Special Someone hates walnuts to a near violent degree going so far as to claim they’re racist.  I resist the urge to fall into the trap of asking for an explanation of this intentionally absurd declaration. Since it’s the weekend, the line outside is long, and the aroma of warm chocolate is intoxicating.  We have both been subject to far worse New York City line-waiting experiences.  At least this one smells like paradise.  I don my little spender cap and ask:

Me:  What flavor would you like?

SS:  Can we get the dark chocolate chocolate chip?

Me:  Of course.  We’ll get whatever you want.  I like them all [muttering] and I’m perfectly fine with ditching the dream of eating my favorite flavor with you.

Special Someone is fixated on the cookies on display.

SS:  I think I want the dark chocolate peanut butter chip.  Let’s get that!

We get both the chocolate chocolate chip and the chocolate peanut butter chip.  We hightail back to my lair, open our bag and place them on a plate.  I am eager for us to dig in.

SS:  Hey, I thought you wanted to photograph these for your blog?

Me (salivating):  Huh?

She whips out her iPhone and takes a picture.

Dark chocolate peanut butter chip on left and dark chocolate chocolate chip on right. Cookie bliss somewhere in-between.

We first try the chocolate peanut butter chip.  The center is warm, ooey, gooey, and the peanut butter chips are melty, too.  This cookie is like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on steroids.  For those of you that are peanut and nut-averse, take it from us that the chocolate chocolate chip is equally satisfying; like a chocolate lava-filled brownie with a crusty shell.

Special Someone enters cookie-bliss and I follow her lead.  As we eat our cookies, I realize that cake-connoisseur Milton is onto something when he laments the loss of the many bakeries he’s loved that are no longer around. If the Levain Bakery ever shutters, that will be a sure sign that the Upper West Side is on the decline.  In fact, it might be yet another indicator that western civilization on a whole has entered freefall.

Levain Bakery ever going away! I can't face it!

Lame Adventure 291: Bird Brained

A few weeks ago, my buddy, Coco, complained to me about an owl cooing outside her apartment building in lower Manhattan.  Apparently, this bird’s late night/early morning warbling routine has been impairing her ability to get a restful night’s sleep.

Me:  I don’t think that’s an owl.  It’s probably a mourning dove.

Coco:  Whatever it is I wish it would shut the hell up.  It’s driving me crazy!

How I became such an authority on owls vs. mourning doves is that ten years ago I briefly dated a tree-hugger named Mindy.  Whenever I think of this lass I’m reminded of an orifice (not the ear canal).  Read on … She confided to me that she despised the corporate world so much she wanted to craft her own feminine hygiene products for personal use.  My usual witty repartee eluded me at that moment possibly because the vast majority of women I’ve dated have wanted to shoot films, write books, act in plays, etc.  Being in the presence of an aspiring tampon maker was a first (note: there has yet to be a second).  Our union ended with a thud during pillow talk when she revealed she’d rather see someone that works at the UN.

Me (wounded):  Oh.  So you’ve met someone that works at the UN?

Mindy:  No, but I’d like to.

During an earlier less spirit-deflating visit I complained to Mindy about what I thought was an owl cooing outside my window.

Me:  Do you hear that?

Mindy:  That’s a mourning dove.

Who knew?  Not me.

A decade later I’m at work, sitting at my desk, discussing a design project with my friend and colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore).  Eager to seize the reins on a new challenge, she suggests that she’ll make several mockups of this idea that we’ll present to our boss, Elsbeth.

Me:  Excellent!

Then, the neighborhood mourning dove flies onto our windowsill. Havoc ensues.  (not) Under Ling (anymore) knows that I have been obsessed with getting a good picture of this creature to share with Coco.  I have even suggested to my colleague:

Me:  For all we know this could be the actual bird that’s always waking Coco!

One of the many hats (not) Under Ling (anymore) wears is that she’s the company photographer.  She shoots pictures with this very intimidating digital Canon camera that is called something like the Behemoth.

Canon Behemoth.

It weighs about the same as the Liberty Bell.

We both spring into action.  (not) Under Ling (anymore) wielding the Behemoth, hops onto the counter as if her Converse sneaker soles have sprouted springs.  She patiently crouches at the window like a member of the paparazzi waiting to capture the perfect “gotcha!” shot of this critter.

"Gotcha!" shot of (not) Under Ling (anymore) perched at the window.

So close and yet so far "gotcha!" shot. "If only Elsbeth would have let me buy a zoom lens for this camera..."

Yet, our bird is fidgety.  It flies from sill to sill, and only perches momentarily.  I fire off a quick shot with my PowerShot.

Can birds get liver spots?

We follow it as best we can, narrowly avoiding colliding into each other when we are certain that it has moved onto the windowsill in Our Leader’s office.  Elsbeth is oblivious to the Two Stooges frantically scampering outside her office door.  After the bird disappears from our view we resume focusing our attention on our assignment.  Then, in an excited voice, (not) Under Ling (anymore) announces:

(not) Under Ling (anymore): The bird’s back!

My heart races.  She grabs the camera and is now perched at a window in the back of our office waiting to fire away.  I commend my friend for taking this interesting shot in white silhouette.

Cool shot!

(not) Under Ling (anymore) insists it reminds her more of this mythical (?) creature.

Loch Ness monster image from Wikipedia.

Later that evening, I email Coco a link to a 24 second video of a mourning dive cooing with the subject heading, “Does this sound like your owl?”

Coco’s response: Yes! Maybe my owl is really one of those bastards.

Maybe it’s even the one perched outside our window?

"This feels so good on the tail feathers, it makes me want to coo even louder!

7:32 am update email from Coco: That dick bird is still cooing…..argh!  It doesn’t quit!

Lame Adventure 290: Visiting the World Virtually

WordPress is this site’s host since its launch in January 2010.  They’re constantly tweaking it, adding more bells and whistles. I adapt to their changes that have all been fine with me thus far.  This month, March (for anyone drawing a blank about what month this is), they’ve added a new statistics feature displaying a summarization of the top views by country.  Pictured below is the Lame Adventures map showing my puny stats for the first eleven days of March.

I suck in China but possibly whoever reads me there is now in a labor camp.

I am most popular in the US (population 313.1 million) with 2,387 visits but not as loved in China (population 1.3 billion) with two visits.  Obviously, I have my work cut out for me with my Chinese audience, but I am doing much better in Hong Kong with fifteen visits.  Some years ago I had a work-related email pal in China, a very personable young woman named Yinni who was obsessed with the TV series Sex and the City; she insisted I was the Samantha character come to life.  I did not have the heart to admit to her that I’m queer as (adjusting for inflation) a nine-dollar bill and my taste in attire leans heavily in the direction of Larry David.  She advised me that if I ever got around to visiting China, I should skip the mainland and head straight to Hong Kong.  Looking back, I think she was more onto me than I realized at that time.

I am not going to delude myself into thinking that more than a fraction of my visitors read much, if anything of what I’ve written.  I imagine the pictures are the draw, such as this semi-mangled water bug I encountered while re-entering my building after taking out the trash.

Bug porn.

As I was perusing the extensive world traveling Lame Adventures has done while I primarily remain parked in either my postage stamp-sized dwelling or cluttered desk at work, my buddy and colleague, Coco, called.  Earlier in the day, I had checked my 401k and noticed that suddenly my name was misspelled.  I emailed Coco and half-jokingly told her to check the spelling of her name on our plan.  She called to say that her name was suddenly misspelled, too.  We did not know what to make of this odd coincidence but we now know that we both have to deal with our difficult general manager, our plan’s administrator, to make the adjustment.  We commiserated further.

Me:  If I hadn’t already made my sandwich for tomorrow, I’d take the day off.

Coco:  I wish I could leave the country, just light a fire behind myself and run.

That prompted me to tell my pal about all the places Lame Adventures has visited. Coco was impressed as I rattled off country after country.

Top 31 visitors to Lame Adventures-land.

Coco:  That’s so cool!

Middle 31 visitors to Lame Adventures-land.

Me:  But I’m almost 371 in dog years and I have yet to go anywhere outside of the continental US whereas my blog will probably be read on the moon if they ever build a space station there!

Coco:  I still think that’s cool.

Actually, I do, too.  I will also ask Coco to pretend that she’s me should I  hear from Yinni again if she ever makes good on her goal to visit the US, something she had longed to do.  That will surely up my stats in the most populous country in the world.

Lower 28 visitors to Lame Adventures-land, probably all eager to scram and not return.

Lame Adventure 289: Spring Preview!

Even though the weather is chilly again today and it’s not expected to escape the forties on Saturday, this past Thursday we had a lovely sneak preview of spring here in Gotham City with temperatures climbing 24 degrees above average to 71. Yet, it wasn’t a record high.  That was set back in 1987 when it was 76 on that date (March 8th) in weather history. I emailed this news to my Special Someone who has been away and added:

Me: Have I told you that I’ve become a meteorologist in your absence?

After taking a walk outside on this beautiful Thursday, my colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore), was feeling warm when she returned to our stuffy office.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Can we open the door?

She knows I have a peeve about people leaving the door to our office open.

Me:  Why open the door?  Why not open the window?

(not) Under Ling (anymore) gives me a look that asks:

(not) Under Ling (anymore)’s Look asking:  Who’s going to do that?

Me:  You’re practically thirty years younger than me; you’re going to do it!

My Look barking:  You know that there’s no way I’m going to risk pulling, straining or dislocating any precious body part just to open the window.

Hearing that message from My Look loud and clear (not) Under Ling (anymore) carefully climbs atop a counter to open one of our windows.  I build her confidence from the confines of my chair.

Me:  There are bars; you’re not going to fall out [muttering inaudibly] I hope.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) is a very svelte individual.  As she struggles to dislodge the stubborn window she asks:

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Why are there bars on our windows?

Me:  To discourage us from throwing ourselves out.  We set the standard for Foxconn.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Hey, it’s stuck!

Me:  Get Greg to do it.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) asks our department’s hero, my sidekick Greg, to intervene.  Greg leaps into our office in a single bound resisting the urge to sing:

Greg not singing: Here I come to save the day!

Me not saying what I’m thinking if he would sing:  Just open the window, will you?

Greg muscles the window open.

Our first opened window of 2012.

The warm breeze is pleasant prompting me to take a stroll to personally check out just how lovely this day is in Tribeca.  It is a perfect day for many reasons.

Whenever I can forgo boots for sneakers I have happy feet, even though the seam from my sock was actually slicing through my little toe like a dagger.

There is torture happening inside this Jack Purcell sneaker.

Cute Italian compact cars look cuter.

A trashed coffee cop underneath barely detracts from this Fiat's cuteness.

Great weather is a great way to flaunt one’s sleeve tattoos.

Rachel who's got great tats flaunting them. My liver spots offer no competition.

Although I have easily walked down this stretch of Hudson Street hundreds of times before, I’ve never noticed this flower power wallpaper until now.

I feel transported back in time to Haight Ashbury circa 1967.

Flower stands just look even more colorful on a warm and sunny day.

I'll take one of everything.

A box of shamrocks offering a blunt reminder that it is still March.

Green beer, green bagel and green tongue-time is coming.

Pursuing a mate.

"C'mon, baby, check out my collection of pizza crusts in my nest."

Relaxing on a Duane Park bench with a Special Someone.

Special Someones Sasha and Vaughn.

It’s a good time to go bopping in a pink tutu.

But keeping it real with the winter boots.

It’s a great time to go tree climbing.

"Bet you can't do this, Lady!" "Bet you're right, Sonny!"

An even better time to pretend you’re an area rug.

“I’m dreaming I'm a shag carpet.”

A building built in 1891 carries its age well under a clear blue sky.

You still look fascinating for 121.

It’s terrific biking weather.

You don't even have to pay to park. Yet.

One of the nicest surprises happens at 6:03 in the evening while exiting the 72nd Street subway station on the Upper West Side.

It's 67 degrees!