Category Archives: new york city

Lame Adventure 417: Theater Karma

As much as I love theater, I hate the ticket prices. But, it is my passion so I try to see as many plays as I can for bottom dollar. Volunteer ushering off-Broadway plays has allowed me to see three of the last five Pulitzer prize winning shows for free. Unfortunately, Broadway does not allow volunteer ushers. About a week ago, Milton, sent me an email asking about The Realistic Joneses a 95 minute hit comedy written by Will Eno playing on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. The poster features a dead squirrel lying atop a mailbox.

Eye catching poster.

Eye catching poster.

Milton wrote:

Milton: Are you interested in this?

Is grass green, is the pope Catholic, does New York stink in summer? Sign us up! Because we are both of modest means, we agreed that we would settle for balcony seats to the tune of $39 each. We’re not wild about seeing it from the proximity of Canada, but at least we’re getting to see it. The ticket seller asked:

Ticket seller: Can you handle climbing seventy-nine steps?

Me (thinking): Is this a test, should I be insulted, can she not see that I am the icon of fitness for my age demographic?

Me (answering): Yes, absolutely!

As soon as I spoke I imagined Milton screaming:

Milton: I’ve got to walk up seventy-nine fuckin’ steps?

We’re not seeing it for another month, so he has four weeks to prepare himself mentally and physically for this challenge.

As I walked past the Cort Theater, where a revival of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe, was in previews, I noticed a sign on the door announcing the $37 rush ticket policy.

Head turning sign.

Head turning sign.

I asked the ticket seller how soon one should get in line for rush tickets for weekend performances.

Ticket seller: I’d say an hour would be fine. No one is aware of the rush policy yet. The sign was just posted today.

When that play was staged in London, where it also starred Radcliffe, it was a huge hit. The run sold out. Word travels fast in New York. I had seen this play five years ago off-Broadway for free when I ushered it. I loved it. It is a black comedy set in 1934 Inishmaan, an island in Ireland, where nothing much happens. Even the gossip is dull. One day a film crew arrives. That causes tremendous excitement, but no one is more excited than Billy, the cripple in the title, whose favorite pastimes are reading and staring at cows. It’s a tale packed with idiocy, cruelty, redemption and a lot of wit. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

I had a feeling that it would get rave reviews here and then I learned that it was opening this weekend, on Sunday. Once the raves pour in, getting weekend rush tickets might require getting in line several hours in advance. The weekends are when I power sleep. So Milton took sleep deprivation upon himself and got into the rush line this past Saturday at 8:52 in the morning waiting for the box office to open at 10 am. At 10:09 am, while I was deep in REM sleep, he emailed me that we got tickets to that evening’s final preview performance at 8 pm.

Cort marquee.

Cort marquee.

Our seats were in the center orchestra, row AA. That’s directly in front of the stage. We could almost eat the styrofoam painted to look like Inishmaan’s sea wall.

We resisted biting into the stage. We figured it does not taste like chicken.

We resisted biting into the stage. We figured it does not taste like chicken.

I asked Milton what he thought the seats behind us cost.

Milton: $400.

As for the play itself, the story was as wonderful as I remembered. The supporting cast was brilliant. The way one actress repeatedly delivers the three-word line, “Not a word” blew what remains of Milton’s mind. Daniel Radcliffe was a far prettier Billy than Aaron Monaghan, who I thought was perfect in the role five years ago. Milton was impressed with Radcliffe’s gay male following in attendance, but he thought that Radcliffe was the weak link in the production. Yet, his star power guarantees box office sales. He is adequate in the role. To his credit, he doesn’t chew the scenery. Overall, we were entertained.

When we were leaving the theater, a woman who probably paid ten times what we paid for her ticket, found my iPhone. Unbeknownst to me, it had slipped out of my pocket and she noticed. Afterward, at a pub, the bartender bought us our second round of suds. Overall, it was an excellent night. The play opened on Sunday to the rave reviews I anticipated.

Bring on that dead squirrel!

Lame Adventure 416: “What are we here for?”

On a recent pay-what-you-want Friday evening at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Milton and I were among the first of the small spenders. We each paid five dollars, significantly less than the usual $20 admission fee.

Prized $5 ducts.

Prized $5 ducats.

Milton: What are we here for?

Neither of us had ever visited the Whitney before. I reminded him that it was for the Biennial; an exhibition the Whitney holds every other year showcasing contemporary art produced by lesser known as well as up and coming artists.

This year’s Biennial is the last at the Whitney’s current Madison Avenue at 75th Street location, an iconic building designed by Marcel Breuer.

The Whitney's facade resembling upside down steps.

The Whitney’s facade resembling upside down steps.

Next year, the Whitney will relocate to a much larger space designed by Renzo Piano in the very trendy Meatpacking district in lower Manhattan. After the Whitney moves, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will have exhibits and educational programming in that space. It is comforting to know that one building remains on Manhattan Island that has yet to go luxury co-op.

Three of the Whitney’s five floors are devoted to the Biennial that is on display through May 25th. But the top two floors feature an exhibition called “American Legends: From Calder to O’Keeffe” that runs through October 19th. Possibly due to the proliferation of smart phones attached to every 21st century museumgoer’s mitt, attendees were allowed to snap shots with abandon.

The first paintings we saw when we exited the fifth floor elevator were works by Jasper Johns.

Do I have triple vision?

Jasper Johns. Three Flags. 1958.

We saw exquisite paintings by Edward Hopper.

Edward Hopper. Early Sunday Morning. 1930.

Edward Hopper. Early Sunday Morning. 1930.

When we entered a gallery with flower abstracts, I declared:

Me: This has to be Georgia O’Keeffe, it’s so vaginal!

Georgia O'Keeffe. Music, Pink and Blue No. 2. 1918. (Sure looks like something else to me.)

Georgia O’Keeffe. Music, Pink and Blue No. 2. 1918.

The symbolism in a Jacob Lawrence painting from 1946 called War Series: The Letter made me reflect on how I feel about labeling tile at The Grind.

Jacob Lwrence. War Series: The Letter. 1946. (Or the agony of tile labeling.)

Jacob Lawrence. War Series: The Letter. 1946.

Milton was particularly unimpressed with the paintings by Burgoyne Diller.

Burgoyne Diller. Untitled. 1962

Burgoyne Diller. Untitled. 1962.

Milton: It blows my mind that something like this is considered significant. If your kid brought that home, you’d throw that shit away, or you’d find a way to hide it.

We entered a gallery where we were greeted with this painting by legendary pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

Roy Lichtenstein. Bathroom. 1961.

Roy Lichtenstein. Bathroom. 1961.

Milton: I can’t look at this room. I hate this!

Roy Lichtenstein. Still Life with Crystal Bowl. 1963.

Roy Lichtenstein. Still Life with Crystal Bowl. 1972.

Milton stormed into the next gallery where he was welcomed by this oil on linen portrait of poet, art curator and critic, John Perreault, painted by Alice Neel.

Alice Neel. John Perreault. 1972.

Alice Neel. John Perreault. 1972.

Me: At least you found something to look at.

Milton: Not that I enjoy it.

Milton has never been shy about how much he despises the paintings of Alexander Calder.

Calder. Contour Plowing. 1974.

Alexander Calder. Contour Plowing. 1974.

But he admitted that he liked this sculpture.

Calder. The Brass Family. 1929.

Calder. The Brass Family. 1929.

Milton: That’s fascinating. What’s it made of, wire hangers?

We moved onto checking out the Biennial. We first noticed that on every floor there was a speaker with plush toys emitting groaning noises.

Plush toys, scarves, stereo speakers and groaning.

Plush toys, scarves, stereo speakers and groaning.

This was from the 2013 collection of the artist, Charlemagne Palestine called:

hauntteddd!!

n

huntteddd!!

n

daunttlesss!!

n

shuntteddd!!

Apparently, spelling has lost relevance.

When we entered the exhibit, these were amongst the first works we saw.

This is great art.

This is great art?

This is big red art.

This is big red art.

Marble sculptures n

Alma Allen marble sculptures on wood bases.

These sculptures of marble on wood are by Alma Allen, a self taught artist who works independently of any movement.

Milton: I don’t know what that shit is.

Philip Vanderhyden recreated People in Pain, a massive installation in crumpled vinyl backlit with now primarily forgotten movie titles from the 1980s. Gretchen Bender originally conceived it.

People in Pain.

People in Pain.

When we saw the title to the film, Ironweed, film expert Milton observed:

Milton: The only people in pain were the audience.

On the next floor, Milton seemed particularly fascinated with this wall of tee shirts.

Wall of tee shirts.

Wall of tee shirts on hangers.

Me: Do you like the tee shirts?

Milton: I hate them.

We encountered this cast salt wall hanging, Limbs of the Pacific, but I prefer Milton’s name for it:

Limbs of the Pacific.

Limbs of the Pacific.

Milton: Fuckin’ sandpaper!

Someone did a painting of the actor James Dean masturbating in a tree.

Glamorous.

Rebel Without a Cause All Right.

Milton liked the concept but pronounced the painting:

Milton: Awful.

There was a series of paintings by Etel Adnan that were variations of this.

And we must work day jobs?

And we must work day jobs?

I stopped to look at this sculpture hanging on a wall, but I didn’t get its name, so I’ll improvise to the best of my ability.

Throw Something on the Wall and Call it Art.

Throw Crap on the Wall and Call it Art.

We saw these eight briefcases that musician, recording engineer and anti-war protester, Malachi Ritscher, used to store hundreds of concert recordings made on digital audiotape and cassette.

Eight brief cases, but feel free to count them.

Eight brief cases, but feel free to count them.

In 2006 Ritscher self-immolated himself near the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago to protest the Iraq war. I like to think that there are easier ways to be included in this exhibit.

We left the exhibit in silence until Milton spoke:

Milton: This breaks my spirit. Someone’s junk being honored!

But there was one bright spot: this fellow attendee’s tie.

Fellow attendee wearing floating tie.

Fellow attendee wearing floating tie.

Lame Adventure 415: Head Games with Head Colds

This week I’ve been gradually recovering from a cold named Colossus. If it were a movie it would be in IMAX 3D. My most special effect is a thundering phlegm-filled cough that strikes fear in every subway rider standing in my soggy, heavy breathing presence. I have wondered what germy New Yorker passed this monster onto me. How I wish I had deflected that pass. I recall my blood running cold when a store clerk suffering stage four sniffles rubbed her nose as she handed me my change. But that was a few weeks before I fell ill. When I returned home from that encounter, I played it safe: I bathed in bleach.

My concentration has had lapses. I’m more focused on sneezing, wheezing, hacking and hoping one day my ears will unclog. Then I can once again savor my fellow commuter’s iPod leaking tinny percussive sounds. Sounds played by a small orchestra. Possibly an orchestra comprised of a herd of hamsters bred with minute opposable thumbs that have discovered the triangle.

My thoughts are all over the place. When I was in the vitamin and health section of my market trying to remember what I needed while coughing that was when my thoughts left the building. It was as if The Head Thought declared:

The Head Thought: I don’t know about you guys, but I’m out of here.

Apparently, all of my other thoughts followed that charismatic thinker. So I completely blanked on getting cough drops. Now thoughtless, I impulsively picked up a box of green tea that has done zilch to silence my cough.

Product placement.

Product placement.

The next time I went to the store I repeatedly said to myself “get cough drops” like a mantra. I got the cough drops. I brought them home. I placed them on my table and then my thoughts apparently went on spring break because I forgot to take the cough drops with me when I went out. If there were a medical procedure where I could have a package of cough drops sewn discreetly into my body, if it was covered by my insurance and did not cause too big a bulge, I’d seriously consider it. If there could be room for a pack of tissues and lip balm, better yet.

I responded to the email from a House Manager at a theater company who scheduled me to usher an off-Broadway play on May 17th by declaring, “Thank you for scheduling me to usher on March 17th.” That matter has since been resolved. I assured him that “I am on top of my game this 2004 theater season”. I suspect that he is now completely convinced that I’m senile.

When I was returning home from doing my laundry last night I saw a fireplace mantle strategically placed over a city trash can on the street corner. I continued walking, certain that my flake-filled head had imagined this. Then, I walked back. Here’s proof that I remain somewhat lucid in my delirium. But maybe not the greatest picture taker while holding a laundry bag. At least I wasn’t coughing.

"Hon, what should we do with this old mantle? do you think one of the kids would want it or should I just throw it out on West End Avenue?"

“Hon, what should we do with this old mantle? Do you think one of the kids would want it or should I just throw it out on West End Avenue?”

Lame Adventure 414: My Silver Lining

This is the door to my closet.

Keep out.

Keep out.

For three years I have had a canvas jacket in there that I purchased online from J. Crew Factory at a very deep discount. I don’t recall how deep the discount was, but the shipping and handling probably cost more than the coat. The coat was in a color that sang melodically to me: drab.

I thought that this coat would be the perfect spring-weight addition to compliment the rest of my drab-colored spring wardrobe. But, there was a catch: this coat was unlined. Nowhere in the description was it mentioned that this coat lacked lining. I considered returning it but I didn’t want to pay the return-shipping fee for a coat that was essentially a steal. J. Crew Factory purchases cannot be returned to J. Crew stores. The Factory stores are located in East God Knows Where. I otherwise liked the coat and it fit decently. I wore it once or twice, but it never felt quite right without a lining. I like linings. I like socks. I don’t wear shoes without socks. I like that extra layer of fabric between my being and the shoe or the garment. To sound like a demented take on a movie quote linings and sock complete me. For three years that unlined coat has been exiled behind my closet door. It was a source of reliable irritation on a hanger.

This year I am doing a Big Purge, a complete clean out of my apartment. This purge includes unloading all of the clothes I no longer wear. I looked in my closet and saw that unlined jacket. It was on the Big Purge list. I tried it on and it still fit well, even better now that I’ve shed Mini Me — ten and a half pounds of girth, leading to the rediscovery of my waistline. I knew that as long as that jacket would not have a lining, I would never wear it again, but then I had a light bulb.

Light bulb: Why not get it lined?

My friend Coco is a fashion expert. I asked her where I could find lining fabric:

Coco: B&J Fabrics on Seventh Avenue. They have everything.

Seventh Avenue runs through the heart of New York’s garment district. The stretch between 34th to 39th Streets is known as Fashion Avenue.

Bronze statue called "The Garment Worker" a relic to the era before  garments were made overseas.

Statue called “The Garment Worker” a worker who would today be found toiling overseas but not wearing a yarmulke.

B&J Fabrics is a family run business that’s been around since 1940. It’s located on the second floor at 525 Seventh Avenue.

Welcome.

Welcome.

While walking down this storied avenue I observed the Fashion Walk of Fame honoring many of the biggest names in the American fashion industry.

Calvin Klein and the toe of my sneaker.

Calvin Klein and the toe of my sneaker.

When I entered B&J’s, I stepped into a fabric wonderland. They’re a go-to source for designers, costumers, fashion students, homeowners and even the casual doofus on the hunt for lining. Their inventory is extraordinary. Here’s a glimpse:

Fabric everywhere.

Fabric everywhere!

Feathers!

Feathers!

Polka dots!

Polka dots!

Metallic brocade!

Metallic brocade!

Raw silk!

Raw silk!

Sequins!

Sequins!

Italian wool!

Italian wool!

Irish linen!

Irish linen!

Glow in the dark!

Glow in the dark!

Delicate and fluttery!

Delicate and fluttery!

Chainmail!

Chainmail!

Fortunately, I did not have to search from feathers to brocade to chainmail to find coat lining. All I had to do was ask one of their many helpful and vastly knowledgeable staff members for direction. Within ten minutes of entering the premises, I found exactly what I wanted, a silver paisley jacquard.

Linings!

Linings!

Five minutes later they cut two yards of fabric for my drab colored coat and I was on my way back uptown to the tailor’s.

This lining scored such a hit with the tailor, I was called and told I could have a twenty-five percent discount on the job — and it was finished three days early.

When I went to pick up my lined coat, the clerk at the tailor’s was thrilled to show it to me. He gushed enthusiastically about the  quality of B&J’s lining.

Clerk at Tailor’s: This coat before was so nothing, but now, now it’s like, “Wow!”

I smiled wanly at the combined compliment and insult.

Drab colored jacket at rest.

Drab colored nothing jacket at rest.

If I ever wear this jacket on a date, it is going to take all my power of self-control to resist turning it inside out.

Love my lining, love  me.

Love my lining, love me.

Lame Adventure 413: Lucky Numbers

I am going against my blogging rule. I’m writing about something I detest writing about: blogging. I hope I do not give the impression of being a gloating cur. On the four year and two month anniversary of Lame Adventures’ debut, I was the recipient of WordPressian validation. I was notified that last week’s post, Lame Adventure 412:The Deodorant Debacle, was selected to be Freshly Pressed. My stats had a nice spike.

What a nice spike looks like numerically.

What seemed like a million percent increase to me.

I thank all that took the time to visit. I welcome the increase in my following. To my 125 new followers, I will make an effort to visit your sites. Please accept my apology in advance that I anticipate this mission could take me two hours shy of forever to complete. I lead a very active life: I work full-time, I write humor pieces that do not appear on Lame Adventures (in 2013, I self-published a book; my worst seller), I work out four-five times a week, I usher off-Broadway theater and I make time for my posse. Please be patient with me. If you are inclined to post several times a week, several times a day, or your posts are long-form, I am easily overwhelmed. Until a day is 36 hours in length, I have neither the time nor the energy to read a barrage of posts from one blogger or the blogospheric equivalent of Ulysses. To me, less is enough. If you receive a like from me, I guarantee that I read your post and genuinely liked it.

I was Freshly Pressed once before. It happened 196 Lame Adventures ago, on a Friday in August 2011, the era before Freshly Pressed badges began adorning sites. I had about 70 likes, 99 comments and a monumental hangover from quaffing my weight in sake the night before. When it happened again last Monday I was stone cold sober. That morning, I groused to Godsend, my colleague at The Grind, that traffic was slow.

Me: It’s obvious to me that this post is a leaden soufflé.

When I received the email from Krista at WordPress alerting me that I would be Freshly Pressed later that week I was surprised. I noticed the number 1,788,883, in our correspondence. I asked Krista if my post was the 1,788,883rd to receive this recognition. Was my lucky number 1,788,883? This prompted me to Google how many hairs there are on the average human head: 100,000. I wondered how many grains of sand there are on earth? Robert Krulwich at NPR’s answer:

“…[I]f you assume a grain of sand has an average size and you calculate how many grains are in a teaspoon and then multiply by all the beaches and deserts in the world, the Earth has roughly (and we’re speaking very roughly here) 7.5 x 1018 grains of sand, or seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains.”

I concluded that my post, the possibly 1,788,883rd Freshly Pressed, fell nicely in-between the average head of human hair and all the grains of sand in the world. Krista answered my email. She explained that 1,788,883 is a numerical ID code. There have been less than 12,000 posts that have been Freshly Pressed.

1 in 12,000.

1 in not quite 12,000.

I intended to write that deodorant post a week earlier, but that week had been hectic. I prefer to publish posts whole-assed rather than half-assed so I held off writing it. Delaying writing that post was one of the smartest moves of my life ranking with when I left my desk at another Grind a nanosecond before the ceiling collapsed directly over my chair.

The cynic in me, who comprises 99% of my being, is aware that so many other deserving bloggers have never been granted this validation once. This brings to mind a quote from the author Gore Vidal:

Gore Vidal: Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.

I knew that feeling through my first 215 Lame Adventures. I returned to feeling like chopped liver through the next 195. You can never predict when your lucky number will come up, but hopefully it will be well before 1,788,883.

Regularly scheduled Lame Adventures will return next week.

Look, the Mona Lisa's in Manhattan!

Look, the Mona Lisa’s in Manhattan!

Lame Adventure 412: The Deodorant Debacle

Some chase storms, some chase skirts, Adele sings a song where she’s chasing pavements (I have no idea what that’s about), and earlier this month, I was chasing deodorant. It started when I noticed a week after I purchased my preferred brand, Mitchum women’s unscented sensitive skin variety, that I had forgotten that I had tucked away deep in my wallet a seventy-five cents off coupon for my next purchase of this product at Duane Reade.

The coupon that started this madness.

The coupon that started this madness.

Duane Reade is a very popular store here in New York City, with over 250 locations, about sixty percent in Manhattan, or one approximately every ten feet north, south, east or west.

Duane Reade store with old logo.

Duane Reade store with old logo.

For many, including me, they are our go-to pharmacy, a place for health and beauty needs, pet toys, paper products, light bulbs, beer and even, in recent years, sushi. I’ve never eaten their sushi, but I can personally attest that their selection of craft beer on tap is quite good. Duane Reade is such a significant part of the New York City landscape that back in the Nineties when my former significant other, Voom, was a corporate speechwriter for the brokerage firm, Dean Witter, her great aunt blathered to her friends that her grand-niece worked at Duane Reade.

Duane Reade store with new logo.

Duane Reade store with new logo.

I noticed that my coupon was due to expire on the tenth of March. In the infinity of my naiveté I thought:

Me: Oh good, I have plenty of time.

One night on my way home from The Grind, I stopped off at the Duane Reade closest to my sanctum sanctorum to replenish my deodorant. Unfortunately, that night, they were low on all Mitchum for women products.

Plenty of space for my brand of wetness protection.

Plenty of space for my brand of wetness protection.

Something else I noticed was that Mitchum’s packaging has changed. The new packaging is promoting 48-hour protection and something called “oxygen odor control technology” that ominously “fights odor before it starts”. What does that even mean? Is my deodorant now psychic? Why reformulate a product that was working perfectly fine? I shower daily and I apply deodorant daily. Is it really necessary for me to slather my armpits with a chemical shield that is going to stop odor and wetness for two days straight? If this is even possible, is whatever in that shield safe? I suddenly had this terrifying vision of my sensitive skin reacting adversely to this ridiculously long lasting product leaving me with deep, gaping wounds in the area of my body that formerly housed my armpits. If I am going to request time off from The Grind, I would prefer it is for vacation, not for undergoing emergency hospitalization.

I also noticed that Mitchum is not the only brand of women’s deodorant shilling 48-hour protection. Their competition has gotten on the 48-hour protection bandwagon, too.

Secret Outlast: outlast what, common sense about what's healthy?

Secret Outlast: outlast what, common sense about what’s safe for one’s skin?

Buy Degree's 48-hour protection and go to the Grammy's feeling confident about not needing to reapply your deodorant for two days.

Buy Degree’s 48-hour protection and go to the Grammy awards feeling confident about not needing to reapply your deodorant for two days.

Who decided that 48-hour protection is what the consumer wants, much less needs? I certainly was not asked my opinion, but in case anyone is listening: I think this is an idea as ban-worthy as asbestos, DDT and if the stars ever align properly, the Kardashians.

The next evening, I again visited my near-by Duane Reade’s deodorant aisle. The Mitchum stock had been fully replenished with reformulated 48-hour protection products, but I did not see any that were unscented and for sensitive skin.

This sucks.

This sucks.

Over the weekend, I had to run an errand down to West 55th Street. I decided that I would visit every Duane Reade for twenty blocks in search of my deodorant. On this hunt, I found many things.

Looky here, it's 6 1/2 Avenue!

Look here, it’s 6 1/2 Avenue!

A yellow trash bag floating between skyscrapers.

A yellow trash bag floating between skyscrapers.

Same yellow trash bag landed.

Same yellow trash bag landed.

New York City sewer cover made in India.

New York City sewer cover made in India.

The one thing I did not find was a single tube of Mitchum women’s unscented sensitive skin deodorant in a single Duane Reade. This was discombobulating.

Truly discombobulating.

Truly discombobulating.

Not to mention irritating. My coupon was going to expire the next day.

Sculpture illustrating my level of irritation.

Sculpture illustrating my level of irritation.

I expanded my search to the many Duane Reades located uptown. Again, not a single store had my deodorant. Finally, completely crazed and disoriented after scouring the deodorant aisles of countless Duane Reades blanketing the West Side of Manhattan, I entered Price Wise on Broadway at 85th Street.

Price Wise here I come!

Price Wise here I come!

Like Duane Reade, Price Wise is another if you can think of it, they probably have it store. Price Wise was the place where my hunt for the holy grail of deodorants had finally ended in success.

Center stage on the shelf!

Center stage on the shelf!

Cue a chorus of voices singing:

Chorus of Voices: Hallelujah!

I remembered that I also needed a box of tissues. I brought my purchases to the cashier. The total came to $5.75. I thought:

Me: Sweet!

I handed over my seventy-five cents off coupon and reached into my wallet for a five. The clerk looked at me and frowned. She spoke sympathetically:

Price Wise Clerk: I’m sorry, honey, this coupon is only good at Duane Reade.

Yes, I felt dumber than this box of rocks.

I felt dumber than this box of rocks.

Lame Adventure 411: Light Bulb with Tea and Agony

Recently, my friend Coco observed that I am “like an Amish rebel”. I don’t know what that means exactly but I suspect that it is an accurate assessment of what I am minus a beard missing a mustache. I don’t have air conditioning. I’ve never owned a microwave. I have been without a TV since July, and this week, when I’m home, I am sitting in the dim. My fifteen-year-old Pottery Barn desk lamp, which had been showing signs of death, bought its rainbow on Saturday night. I performed the equivalent of lamp CPR and swapped out the bulb to no avail. Then, I tried plugging it into another outlet but there was no light.

The lamp that doesn't light.

The lamp that doesn’t light.

On Sunday, I was meeting my friend, Lola, for tea at a place we never get into, Alice’s Tea Cup. I also wanted to set up having my lamp repaired, but I did not want to hightail over to my hardware store with my lamp. What if they couldn’t repair it? Then, I’d be stuck bringing it to the cafe. That would draw attention that would surely work against us. The hosts at Alice’s Tea Cup are gay guys with attitude who are younger than the plaque in our teeth. Add me holding a lamp, it is conceivable that this will be the time that instead of telling us the wait is two hours, we’ll be told to leave and never return. I went to my hardware store armed with an iPhone photo of my lamp, and showed it to a guy named Danny who thought they could fix it.

This affirmation prompted me to race back with my lamp. Even though I told Danny about the tests I conducted, he repeated them. Possibly this was to ensure that I am capable of screwing in a light bulb correctly and I’m able to properly insert a plug into an outlet. I reasoned:

Me: If my lamp turns on for this guy, I will feel betrayed by my appliance.

As badly as I wanted my lamp to work, I did not want to suffer the indignity of looking like an incompetent who’s incapable of turning on her own desk light. On the flip side if it did work for Danny, then I would not have to pay to have it repaired. My cheapskate side, which is most of my being, considered this.

Me: Bring on humiliation! C’mon, little lamp, turn on for Danny!

My lamp remained dead, but it can be resuscitated in a week to the tune of thirty dollars. Danny handed me my repair slip. Just as I was about to leave he said:

Danny: Oh here, take your light bulb.

I was not carrying a satchel. I had no place to put my light bulb. I did not want to stuff a glass light bulb in my pocket, envisioning an explosion inside my coat on par with the bombing of Dresden. So I trekked to one of the snottiest restaurants on the Upper West Side carrying my light bulb. Lola and I met simultaneously.

Lola: Look at you, you brought your light bulb!

We entered Alice’s Tea Cup where we encountered a hostess who was uncharacteristic i.e., pleasant. She told us that the wait was twenty-five minutes. Lola didn’t want to wait. We left, walked two blocks but couldn’t decide where to go. We returned. I was anticipating that the hostess would transform into an eight-headed hydra and tell us that because we were wishy-washy dingbats, the wait had escalated to three hours. It was reduced to fifteen minutes.

A quarter hour later we were sitting at a charming wood table in an estrogen filled room that was so deafening loud, my ears were bleeding. Lola surmised that it was like being trapped in a bird cage. If there were sixty guests, at most eight were men. The male of the species does not flock to Alice in Wonderland themed eateries dotted with loquacious females wearing fluttery angel wings.

Winged woman.

Winged woman.

Winged girl.

Winged girl.

My tea cup and light bulb. Note: no wings attached.

My tea cup and light bulb. Note: no wings attached.

I don’t know what all that wing wearing was about, but the tea and scones were good. I ordered a pot of potent black tea that kept me wired until 2 am.

My tea pot with little cat stopper standing guard over high octane tea.

My tea pot with non-Cheshire cat.

Lola sipped a very fragrant herbal concoction that looked reminiscent of urine, but apparently it tasted considerably better than steeped bodily fluid.

Lola's fragrant herbal concoction.

Lola’s fragrant herbal concoction.

Lola's mixed berry scone.

Lola’s mixed berry scone.

I was feeling tranquil. The conversation was good. I enjoyed nibbling on my warm pumpkin scone topped with sticky sauce.

Warm pumpkin scone. Yum!

Warm pumpkin scone. Yum!

I dabbed it with whipped butter and raspberry jam. Lola screamed:

Lola: What are you doing? You can’t eat that! It’s cream!

Both tea post, my cup of tea and my light bulb all jumped in unison when they heard that.

Both tea pots, my cup of tea and my light bulb all jumped in unison when they heard that.

I have severe lactose intolerance. What I thought was butter was clotted cream, a delicacy known as You’re Spending the Night Writhing in Pain in Your Bathroom in my world.

Lola: Do you have any pills? Take some pills.

I resisted swallowing the foil.

Inhaled lactaid pill wrappers.

I no longer eat anything that requires I pop a pill, but I had two pills that expired last October in my wallet. I swallowed them immediately. I ate such a trace amount of the offending substance I survived without suffering any side effects. But I know I dodged a bullet. Or maybe it was a light bulb.

Next time, leave home the light bulb, but bring ear plugs!

Next time, leave the light bulb but bring ear plugs!

Lame Adventure 410: Beatle Browsing

On Saturday morning, I was feverishly riding my spin bike to my usual destination, Nowhere, when I observed that the sky outside was a vibrant blue. The temperature that day eventually reached a high of 53. If one disregarded the piles of dirt-stained melting snow, the weather was spring-like and perfect for a genuine lame adventure featuring my favorite band, the Beatles. The evening before I was quaffing suds and chowing down bar snacks with my pal, Coco.

Me: What do you think of the Beatles?

Coco: Ugh. I think, “My parents’ music.”

Earlier that week I mentioned the Fab Four to my bud, Milton.

Milton: If I hear any more about the Beatles, I’m going to become a serial killer.

Milton is sick of the avalanche of stories and specials commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles coming to America this month. The combination of common sense and self-preservation suggested that I resist asking either of my two closest friends to join me for a visit to the New York Public Library for the Performing Art’s exhibit, Ladies and Gentlemen … The Beatles! It runs through May 10 and the price is my second favorite four-letter f-word: free.

This exhibit is a touring exhibit (it opens in Minneapolis on June 5) so it may eventually head to a city near you. It was curated by the GRAMMY Museum. It is a treasure trove of Beatle history, artifacts, memorabilia, videos, interactive stops (none of which I participated in because they required wearing communal headphones that activated my inner germaphobe), an opportunity to take a recorded drum lesson from Ringo (I passed) and a living history booth where visitors are encouraged to record their Beatle memories. No way would I subject myself to the humiliation of admitting on tape that even though I was born with a tin ear and can only drop a tune, I fantasized about being a Beatle myself.

Something I learned from this exhibit that I didn’t know before, was that George Harrison, accompanied by his brother, Peter, had visited the US for a few weeks in mid-September 1963. At that time, the four band members were taking a vacation. Paul and Ringo hightailed to Greece. John and his wife, Cynthia, bolted to France. George visited his sister, Louise, who was living in exotic (cough) Benton, Illinois. While there he bought a Rickenbacker guitar.

This guitar was originally red, but George had it lacquered black to look like John Lennon's.

This Rickenbacker 425 guitar was originally red. George had it lacquered black to look like John Lennon’s.

 Before returning to the UK, George visited New York City, and was able to pound the pavement in pre-Beatlemania anonymity.

New York these days (photo by Coco).

New York these days (photo by Coco).

Something else that I found interesting is that although it was teenage girls that initially went hysterical over the band, the artifacts on display were from vast Beatle collections maintained by Beatle worshipping guys in their fifties and sixties. I don’t know what this means, but I am sure some of you, my more intrepid followers, might be pregnant with opinion about this. Eventually, the program for this exhibit might be considered a collector’s item. It is also free.

More valuable than my company 401k.

Soon more valuable than my company’s 401k?

When I attended, about half the crowd was composed of boomers in their fifties and sixties, waxing nostalgic, but I didn’t see Coco’s parents. I overheard a few of the more demented ones softly humming the Beatle songs playing on the sound system. There were several members of the younger generation soaking it in, too. A popular spot for parents to take pictures of their small fry was in front of a typical Beatlemaniac’s bedroom back in the day.

My sister and I would not have seen anything wrong about this room in our youth.

Make the bed queen sized and I’d be okay with living there now.

I shot a few hundred photos with my iPhone, but most did not turn out very well. Naturally, that does not stop me from posting the best of the worst here as a small sampling of what’s on display. Thimble-sized spender me enjoyed this exhibit so much, I was compelled to stuff a Washington into the donation box upon exiting. If you’re in or near New York City, I urge you to visit this really big show. It rates the Lame Adventures greasy fingerprint seal of endorsement.

Library's outside entrance: yeah, yeah, yeah!

Library’s outside entrance: yeah, yeah, yeah!

The Beatles' instruments upon entering the exhibit.

The Beatles’ instruments upon entering the exhibit.

Ray Charles' suit; Ray was a Beatles influence.

Ray Charles (fg) and James Brown (bg) suits; guys who influenced the Beatles.

Elvis's guitar. The Beatles were big fans of his, but he was in no hurry to meet them.

Elvis’s guitar. The Beatles were big fans of his, but he was in no hurry to meet them.

Obviously, Og Philpott's guitar. The Beatles loved this rock legend.

Buddy Holly’s wild guitar. The Beatles loved this rock legend. So do I.

The set list John Lennon wrote for the Beatles first concert in the US.

The set list John Lennon wrote for the Beatles first concert in the US.

Song lyrics Paul McCartney threw in the trash that a hotel maid retrieved. Probably worth a million dollars today.

Song lyrics Paul McCartney threw in the trash that a hotel maid retrieved. Probably worth a million dollars today.

Script for one of the 39 episodes of the Beatles cartoon series that ran on ABC. I was addicted to this show.

Script for one of the 39 episodes of the Beatles cartoon series that ran on ABC. I was addicted to this show.

Pepsi product placement circa 1964. Each Beatle was given on of these transistors upon coming to America.

Pepsi product placement circa 1964. Each Beatle was given one of these transistor radios upon coming to America.

Ticket to see A Hard Days Night. What powers of perception   to save this? My mother would have ditched it as soon as I got home.

Ticket to see A Hard Days Night. What powers of perception to save this. My mother would have ditched it as soon as I got home.

We had this 45 and I remember this sleeve. We don't have it anymore.

We had this 45 and I remember this sleeve. We don’t have it anymore.

Even though these are surely worth a mint today, I much prefer wearing Jack Purcell's.

Even though these are surely worth a mint today, I much prefer wearing Jack Purcell’s.

I saw one of these selling on eBay for $99.

I saw one of these coin holders selling on eBay for $99.

Beatle dolls, Paul bubble bath bottle, Ringo figurine. Paul and Ringo themed merchandise were the most popular. Of course, I preferred George and Ringo.

Beatle dolls, Paul bubble bath bottle, Ringo figurine. Paul and Ringo themed merchandise were the most popular. Of course, I preferred John and George.

What the hell?

What the hell?

Gold record for "I Want to Hold Your Hand".

Gold record for “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. The version of this song they recorded in German gives my colleague, Godsend, hives.

The jacket Paul McCartney wore when the Beatles played Shea Stadium.

The jacket Paul McCartney wore when the Beatles played Shea Stadium.

Poster for the Beatles last concert performed in my home town. None of us attended. Idiots.

Poster for the Beatles last concert performed in San Francisco, my home town. None of us attended. Idiots.

A guy born without the shame gene sitting at a drum kit taking a lesson from Ringo.

A guy born without the shame gene sitting at a drum kit taking a lesson from Ringo.

Enter this booth to yammer your guts out about the Beatles for posterity.

Enter this booth to yammer your guts out about the Beatles for posterity.

Year-round Beatle exhibit in my lair.

Year-round Beatle exhibit in my lair.

Lame Adventure 408: Hearing Things, Smelling Things, Seeing Things

It was bound to happen at some point in this winter of apparently endless snow: it’s playing tricks on what’s left of my mind. I seem to be in a perpetual snow-induced delirium. For example, I’ve been hearing things at The Grind: groaning and moaning in the walls as well as invisible pigeons cooing outside. Sometimes I hear hammering. I’m not sure if that’s in the walls, if it’s outside or maybe it’s inside my head? My colleague, Godsend, hears none of this. She has smelled things I cannot sniff. Sometimes gas, other times toast. She thinks I’m suffering aural hallucinations and predicts that I’ll be seeing things next.

Me: Oh, hardy, har, har. [pause] Hey, who’s that in the back of the room?

Godsend looks.

Godsend: Athena!

Athena is our industrial designer who’s worked with us almost two years.

Me: I know Athena! My mind’s not that shot. I just want to know who’s the guy near her that looks like Benjamin Franklin. Sheesh!

One thing I was certain I saw were two pigeons conjugating the verb on an air conditioner across from our building.

Me: Hey, Godsend, check out the pigeons screwing on the a/c!

Godsend: I don’t want to see pigeon porn!

Well, maybe you do.

This magic moment.

This magic moment.

A nano-second later: "Hey, do you happen to have a cigarette?"

A nano-second later: “Do you have a cigarette?”

On the way into The Grind on Monday, I recognized the graffiti smeared on the 2 Express train’s door. It’s not like it was very memorable graffiti, nor was it in the forefront of my thoughts since whenever it was that I last saw it, a period of time between 24 hours and 24 days earlier. For some reason, it stuck in my head.

Monogram in coffee, dried blood or was that once gravy?

Monogram in coffee, gravy or dried blood?

Subway rider who failed to read the memo that wearing ballet flats in 21 degree weather will not induce spring.

Subway rider who failed to read the memo that wearing ballet flats in 21 degree weather will not induce spring.

Recently, I saw one of my former next-door neighbors on the street, almost a year after he moved out. I made sure not to say hello. Why start acting friendly when we never acknowledged each other during the year he was singing loud and off-key through our shared wall? I may have said on more than one occasion at the top of my lungs:

Me: Please, shut the hell up! You’re torturing me!

One welcome sight I’m sure I glimpsed was this miniature Frosty on a brownstone’s stoop.

"I love this cold weather!"

“I love this cold weather!”

I thought it was a very New York City touch to use pennies for his eyes and belly button. If there’s any city in the country where people are inclined to throw money around, this is that place.

Lame Adventure 407: Bottomless Pit of Winter

The winter of Endless Snow is continuing here in New York City. The slushy, slippery, icy eight inches that fell on Monday produced ankle deep puddles requiring the wearing of all-terrain footwear. That dump set a record for February 3. Rah.  Maybe I mean:

Me: Blah already.

Milton's photo of City Hall Park looking pretty, but looks are deceiving. This is white Hell.

Milton’s photo of City Hall Park looking pretty, but looks are deceiving. This is white Hell.

Back in the day when I was a youngster growing up in foggy San Francisco, I had mental issues: I longed for snow. I yearned to touch it and ached to play in it. I fantasized about forming fluffy snowballs and building snowmen. But, I was stuck living in a place where all the seasons were moderate save for a few days in September when the Mercury might top 85. My family would grouse about the day or two of heat as if we were being held hostage in the Sahara. Then, in the distance, the familiar sight of a fog bank would roll over the bay into the city, my hair would morph back into a giant cloud of frizz, I would return to wearing a heavy wool sweater under my coat and all would be right in the world again.

Now I’m a middle age-ster haunted by one of my father’s favorite sayings:

Dad: Everything in moderation, nothing in excess.

At last count, he doled out that unsolicited slice of advice to my siblings and me 3,457 times until I had a light bulb when I was a teenager.

Me: Dad, if that’s true, then you’re excessively moderate.

He did not have a quick comeback to that unsolicited slice of snark.

Fast-forward to 1982 and my first winter living in New York. I was a film student at New York University who had no comprehension about how cold an East Coast winter could be. On a weekday in early December, I experienced my first snowfall. I looked out my dorm room window and was delighted to see snow falling softly. I raced outside with a few friends and ventured over to Washington Square Park. It did not take long for me to realize that snow felt exactly like crushed ice. I had a delusion that it would feel cottony soft and not so cold. In fact, cold was never a factor in my snowy fantasies. Snow is very cold. Freezing cold. So cold in fact, it burns. About an hour, or maybe it was just six minutes of getting familiar with my first New York City snowfall, snow starting getting old. Real fast. My fingers hurt, my toes and nose were frozen. My love affair with snow turned into the equivalent of a quickie without a kiss in a fleabag hotel.

Fast-forward to the present and this winter of seemingly endless snow. I looked out my window Monday morning and again saw the now familiar sight of sloppy wet flakes softly falling. I thought a rhetorical variation of my father’s old adage:

Me (thinking): This winter and all this snow is so excessive! Where the hell’s the moderation?

As if one can reason with weather. I got ready and raced outside to catch the subway to The Grind. I walked at my usual pace, a maniacal clip just short of eliciting a coronary. When I entered the station, the electronic message board announced that an express train was pulling up to the platform at that very moment. I hightailed down the steps and slithered into a jam-packed car just before the doors closed. I was pressed against the door with five other passengers intimately wedged against me as the train lurched forward. In incredibly uncomfortable situations like these, I remind myself that if everyone were naked, it would be ten thousand times worse. Then, my glasses fogged and I rode blind all the way to Times Square. At Times Square, when the doors opened, I stumbled out and shot across the platform to a local train that I rode the rest of the way. When I emerged from underground I walked the quarter block to my place of employ at warp speed to further escape the weather’s wrath. I proceeded to spend the entirety of my day safely tucked away behind bars, every so often looking out the window and hoping my commute home would not be screwed up by that bitch goddess, Mother Nature.

View from The Grind.

View from The Grind.

Winter has so lost its magic. Another eight inches could fall on Wednesday and a third dump this week is forecast for Sunday. How I’d love to ship this precipitation to the Sierra Nevada mountains for drought-stricken California.

Trees outside the 72nd Street subway station: look don't touch.

If I was still five, I’d want to eat that snow on the fence.

Frosted trees outside the 72nd Street subway station.

Frosted trees outside the 72nd Street subway station.

Island on 73rd Street I visit frequently.

Island on 73rd Street I visit frequently without sunblock.

Look but don't touch.

Pretty branches that will lose their luster when they break under the weight of this snow and the photographer gets killed.

Frozen bike with missing seat; maybe it's warming up indoors?

Frozen bike with missing seat; maybe it’s warming up indoors?

No obvious bags stuck in these trees.

No bags obviously stuck in these trees.

Sugar coated block - right.

Sugar coated block and marshmallow topped cars: sure.