Tag Archives: stupidity

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 400: Signs of the Season

The signs of the holiday season are everywhere these days.

Looking forward to January.

Or bracing for SantaCon.

Big Bird multitasking as holiday eyesore.

Big Bird multitasking as holiday eyesore.

The other night I was walking east on Houston Street with my pal, Coco. We paused to observe the elaborate manger scene inside the gates of St. Anthony’s church when I nearly suffered a coronary.

Me: Coco, look! Jesus is missing! Is nothing sacred? Who steals Jesus?

Where's the life of the party?

Where’s the life of the party?

Coco: LBJ isn’t there because he doesn’t come out until Christmas Eve! We don’t have to get all CSI or re-enact the Lindbergh baby kidnapping!

To emphasize her point, to make me feel like the consummate stupido, Coco stabbed her studded, black leather-gloved finger at potential suspects.

"Did you take LBJ?"

“Did you take LBJ?”

Or you? Did you take LBJ?

Or you? Did you take LBJ?

I could not get my mind off Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Me: What has the 36th president got to do with this?

Coco: LBJ is Little Baby Jesus you dumb bell!

It was enlightening to learn that my friend leads a double life as the female Jay-Z. After Coco and I parted ways, I went home to the Upper West Side, where I saw another holiday display, this one in the window of the Citarella market on Broadway. It’s an edible replica of the Flat Iron building, their contribution to the Gingerbread Extravaganza.

This might not taste as good as it looks.

This might not taste as good as it looks.

This extravaganza is for a charitable cause, City Harvest, an institution that helps fight hunger in New York. To see all of the gingerbread structures in competition click here.

When I was growing up in San Francisco, a sure sign that Christmas was coming was when my mother would drag me with her to the Emporium, our go-to department store. Every year, a section of the store would be devoted to their made-to-order holiday cards. The cards were displayed under cellophane in thick oversized books that my mother would scrutinize for hours. If in reality we were only there twenty minutes, I was so bored it seemed to last an eternity. My mother, a perfectionist who was always more high strung than usual during the holiday season, would make mincemeat out of me if I dared touch one of those books. Those books were for adult scrutiny only and about as thrilling as math class. All of those cards were capital d Dull. The card my mother would select was always a variation of the same theme: a somber nativity scene. Snore.

When the cards arrived, Mom would spend hours at the kitchen table working on them, addressing each envelope in her perfect, flowery script. She would write thoughtful notes inside. Eventually, she cut herself a break in this masochism and stopped licking each stamp personally and began utilizing a sponge. It amazed me that she would send out hundreds of cards. My parents seldom ever had friends over. Who was she sending all of these cards to? Pages of random people in the phone book? I never asked. I knew that when she was in Christmas card mode to stay far away. If I could have moved to Mars I would have done so.

My salesman father would send cards to his customers. He’d be on the road filling his car with gas, notice cards on sale next to the motor oil and pick up whatever the grease monkeys were selling. This probably took him a total of six minutes and he even got his windshield washed. When my dad did his cards, at warp speed at his desk in the room he shared with my mom, I was allowed entry. I could light myself on fire, run in circles and scream at the top of my lungs.

In 1970, he came home with a card with a picture of a moose that had a red and white candy cane protruding from its mouth. Inside it announced, “Merry Christmoose!” I thought that was the greatest holiday card ever. Granted, I was only eleven, but I had never known there could be a funny Christmas card. When we received a card from someone that did not make my mother’s list, she had a meltdown. She had given out all of her made-to-order cards. My father had some extra Merry Christmoose cards. He offered his to her. The expression on my mother’s face was as if he suggested she write “Merry Christmas” on a dead seagull. She went out and bought a card.

This year is the first time in thirty years that I have not sent holiday cards. Milton wanted me to design my own, but I didn’t get around to it. When I visited a card shop in my neighborhood, I immediately noticed one I would have sent.

Inside caption: "Merry Christmoose!"

Inside caption: “Merry Christmoose!”

Unfortunately, this card was not available in a multi-pack. But I did send one to my dad.

Happy holidays Lame Adventurers.

Lame Adventure 398: The Million Dollar Migraine

In time for the holiday shopping season there’s an opportunity to own an authentic painting by Pablo Picasso worth one million dollars for $135.

Man with Opera Hat

Man with Opera Hat (Pablo Picasso 1914).

This is for a lottery that will be held December 18 in Paris. Tickets cost 100 Euros or $135. Only 50,000 tickets will be sold and it’s for a charitable cause, a fund-raising project to benefit the International Association to Save Tyre (AIST), a city in Lebanon that has taken a beating in military conflicts for decades. Tyre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its history goes back to the Phoenicians, making it slightly younger than dirt. The money raised would support two cultural initiatives: an arts center and a scholarly institute. This chicken would sooner study art in an infinitely safer place such as sitting on the third rail of the subway track. But possibly, Lebanon will transform into a country of unicorns and rainbows when this arts center opens. Why not donate 135 clams to a worthy cause and have a one in 50,000 shot at owning the ultimate conversation piece?  I don’t happen to have a spare 135 clams, especially during holiday spending season, and the painting lives in France. Here’s the fine print:

Party of first part excerpt.

Sending it stateside in time for a Christmas delivery reeks of hassle. A proxy could prove to be unscrupulous; someone named Jean-Claude d’Oily who might swap it out for a picture that looks more like this.

"Hey, this isn't in color!"

“Hey, this isn’t in color!”

Transporting a million dollar Picasso is complicated. It might behoove the winner, such as someone like myself, to take a trip to France to personally retrieve it. That would eliminate the shipping fee. As a woman of modest means I would need to cut more costs. Another way to pinch pennies is to avoid staying in a hotel. This would be a no time for sightseeing, grab and go operation, where we fly in and fly out. Naturally I would travel with my human shield: Milton.

Milton in his Thinking Cap.

Milton in his Thinking Chapeau.

With Milton in the dual role of protector and navigator — I have no idea where that warehouse in Gennevillieres is; we could inconspicuously transport it back to my humble abode in a Le Bon Marché department store shopping bag. This painting only measures 9 ½” x 12”. In fact, I could easily slip it into my messenger bag. Who would suspect that we would transport a million dollar 99-year-old Picasso in a shopping bag much less a canvas satchel along with a comb, antacid tablets and hand sanitizer?

The French: Can you believe those two stoo-peed Americans with the sanitized hands?

But it is as guaranteed as death, (value added) taxes and middle age weight gain that Milton will give me guff should I try to stuff it in the plane’s overhead bin.

Milton: No, you are not putting your Picasso in the overhead bin! That’s simply unheard of!

Me: Like it’s customary to carry a Picasso out of France in a shopping bag or satchel? Where the hell am I supposed to put it, or should I ask Brigitte Bardot over there?

Milton: Brigitte Bardot?

Me: That flight attendant. The blonde.

Milton: You think she looks like Bardot? Please. Mitzi Gaynor in 1975 if you’re looking at her through cataracts.

Me: Can we stay on topic here? It will be fine in the overhead bin. Let’s not over-think this.

To keep the peace, I’ll place the painting under the seat in front of me. So we get it back to New York without incident i.e., no one gets mugged or murdered. Then what do I do with it? Hang it on the wall in my crappy apartment?

Milton: Before you do anything else, you must insure it!

That means I have to call Geico, get past that annoying Gecko, and research how much they’ll fleece me. I anticipate that phone conversation would be priceless and knowing my luck I’ll be arguing with a customer service drone of indeterminate gender named Begonia. Maybe I could just slip my Picasso into one of those renter’s insurance policies costing $14.25 a month that more than covers all of my other worldly goods worth a combined value of $3,497 when I factor in my spin bike and the three-pack of socks I purchased in October. I could plead ignorance that I had no idea that storing a million dollar painting on a shelf next to my paper towels might increase the cost of my policy 75-fold.

While eating brunch with my pal Lola, who was born and raised in Spain but has lived in New York for decades, I mention this potential life crisis.

Me: My life is a never-ending headache — real or imagined.

Lola: If you win this painting, I’ll tell my sister to pick it up.

According to Google Maps, driving from Spain to France is the same distance as going from New York to Cincinnati, approximately 640 miles.

Google maps NYC to Cincinnati

Google maps Spain to France

Lola: I’ll sell it for you when I’m over there. Buy your ticket.

But I will resist the temptation. If I lose, I would be out the $135 I’m intending to spend on Christmas presents for all those nearest and dearest me: custom made soap-on-a-rope. But maybe you will want to take that one in 50,000 chance. If so, click here.

Lame Adventure 395: Impulse Shopping

Last month, my gastroenterologist ordered me to lose the equivalent of a bowling ball and seven bananas in weight.  I am paraphrasing his exact wording, but he insists that I must slam the brakes on my widening middle age spread and focus on getting back into shape. My knee-jerk response was spastic discombobulating followed with denial that devolved into defensive arguing. Then, I coughed up a copper penny I swallowed when I was five and purchased a spin bike that set me back another 44,899 copper pennies including shipping. It arrived two weeks ago tomorrow. Here it is.

Voila!

Voila!

I cannot show anymore of it because I have yet to open the box. Allegedly, inside is one Spinner brand FIT bike, 4 DVDs (but it is not specified if any are from the Criterion Collection or my second choice, documentaries about historical people of accomplishment or my third preference, celebrity sex tapes). In addition, there’s an 8-Week Weight Loss Program (on week 9 do I revert back to my 5-Year Weight Gain Program?) and something called Guide to Ride. The last could be an advisory sentence: “Climb on and cycle your guts out lard ass.” Until I open this box, for all I know what’s inside is a hundred lead-filled sock monkeys. How would I feel about that? After I finish brooding it would solve what everyone is getting from me for Christmas this year and 15 years hence.

Everyone (in unison): Lead-filled sock monkeys again! You suck!

If this had been a delivery of tile samples to my place of employ, The Grind, I would have opened and inventoried the contents of this box at warp speed to ensure that we received exactly what we ordered, everything was intact nor were any lead-filled sock monkeys included. I did shift into overdrive playing intermediary between the delivery service, FedEx, and my apartment building’s manager who graciously arranged to have this hippopotamus-sized hunk of steel carried up to and placed inside my third floor hovel. She knows that I have reached the age when my carrying anything less portable than a bottle of Windex and eleven craisins will elicit huffing and puffing worthy of a 19th century steam engine, coincidentally exactly what I feel like most mornings when I wake. Huh, maybe I should do something specific about getting back into shape?

One of the advantages of living in New York City is that I do not need to own a car. My main sources of getting around are public transit and walking. Over the weekend, I needed to go to my market, Fairway, to do some foodstuff shopping. I walked to the store. It was very crowded, but at least the homicidal maniac-types were sleeping in and everyone that showed up was civil. I was determined to grab what I needed and go as quickly as possible. Returning home I encountered a loose Brussels Sprout on the sidewalk near my sanctum sanctorum.

Image magnified to enhance detail of semi-squashed sprout.

Image magnified to enhance detail of semi-squashed Brussels Sprout.

As I was photographing this rare sight, I remembered that in my haste I had forgotten to pick up pita bread. I went home, dropped off my sack of groceries and then embraced 21st century technology and texted my friend, Coco. Why suffer in dignified silence when one can grouse in whiny text? It’s vital to have a buddy to share one’s suffering with and for me, that buddy is Coco.

Coco (via text): I hate when I forget something at the store. I feel your pain.

I returned to my market, where I again wended my way through the masses and picked up pita bread and on impulse, a package of chocolate sea salt cookies — in defiance of why I have gained a bowling ball and seven bananas in weight.

Pita and cookies in the before state; before being plastered onto human hips.

Pita and cookies in the before state; before being plastered onto human hips.

When I returned home, Coco texted me.

Coco: Glad you accomplished mission pita.

What she does not know is that Project Lazy Lard Ass is continuing with gusto. When I get around to opening that spin bike box, preferably before I polish off every chocolate sea salt cookie, I hope that I am not greeted with a hundred lead-filled sock monkeys, or equally irritating, a spin bike missing a fly wheel.

We're all in this together.

We’re all in this together.

Now for some shilling in this quid pro quo world we live in. My worst seller, Lame Adventures: Unglamorous Tales from Manhattan, is being featured tomorrow at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized e-book recommendations. You choose from 32 genres, indicate your preferences about content and then their computers, or maybe it’s a gray-haired lady in orthopedic shoes named Agnes, do the rest. Check out their site:

www.TheFussyLibrarian.com

Lame Adventure 388: Thought is Cheap

Recently I thought:

Me (thinking): I’d like to get back in shape.

Currently, I am situated in between two poles. On the one side there’s the pole that is fantastically fit and I’m moving with the grace of a gazelle, prompting this type of flattery:

Flatterer: You look great! Have you been quaffing from the fountain of youth?

The opposite pole is dire. I have turned into a huffing, puffing flab factory on feet prompting the screaming silence of disapproval and behind-the-back commentary:

Behind-the-Back Commentary: Has she gone downhill! Obviously, she’s guzzling from the sewer of age.

For twenty-five years, to stay in shape I stationary cycled and lifted weights in the privacy of my sanctum sanctorum. The Tunturi exercise bike I bought in 1986 is now quite rusted. What is of even greater concern is that it has been steadily drizzling parts on my rug for most of the past two years. When I vacuum, I hear the disturbing sound of deeply inhaled chunks of metal rattling through my ancient upright Eureka’s intestines. What remains of my exercise bike is in such a state of dilapidation I am in a quandary. Should I attempt to ride it again or just put it out of its misery? Maybe place it on cinderblocks in my building’s front garden? If I do ride it again, what if a part that should move fluidly jerks violently, catapulting me through the window and I bounce off the concrete patio three stories below? What a way to introduce myself to the first floor tenants — surrounded by paramedics with mops.

The time has come to invest in a new exercise bike. In today’s world that is a spin bike. I could see myself perched atop one of these state of the art fitness machines complete with a narrow seat made from a composite material with slightly less give than granite, having the cardio workout of a lifetime provided a massive coronary or a blood clot erupting in what’s left of my brain does not mar the plethora of health benefits. I can envision myself cycling off excess flab on this, my personally watered down to an anemic drip Tour de France, or more accurately, Tour de Crappy Rent Stabilized Studio Apartment.

Recently, I saw a lovely sunny yellow spin bike on display on Amsterdam Avenue outside SoulCycle, the spin enthusiast’s temple of spinning. A single class there costs $34 while the VIP 50-class package tops $3,500. I don’t do classes, nor do I have a spare 3,500 clams to burn, but I would welcome having a shiny new sunny yellow spin bike in my humble abode.  I went online to price it and discovered it is $2,200. There’s no way I am going to spend those kinds of shekels on an exercise machine, but I was curious to see for myself what exactly makes this bike the Lamborghini of spin bikes. Does it come with an engine?

Sweet bike, sour price.

Sweet bike, sour price.

I set out to do some investigating. Just when I was about a storefront away from SoulCycle, a poster caught my eye in the doorway of a bakery called Crumbs announcing the arrival of the Crumbnut. I did a swish pan and was instantly inside Crumbs.

Welcome sucker!

Welcome sucker!

In May, Dominique Ansel, a French bakery in Soho introduced the original Cronut, the spawn of a croissant and a doughnut. People have lost their minds over this delicacy and start lining up outside this bakery on weekdays at 5:30 in the morning. Dominique opens at 8 and limits two Cronuts per customer at $5 each.  Right now, they’re baking about 300 a day. Some of my longtime readers might think that this is the exact type of lunacy that has “Lame Adventures” written all over it. I hate to disappoint but there is no way I am going to do this. Here at Lame Adventures, I have standards.

I saw that the Crumbnut costs $2.95. They were filling an entire tray. I could have easily bought two dozen. I bought one, hightailed home, took a bite and discovered that it has the consistency of a hockey puck, but with slightly less flavor. I also suspected that the vintage was easily half a day old.

What looks like powdered sugar might actually be dust.

What looks like powdered sugar might actually be dust.

Then, I remembered that I was so distracted by the advent of the Crumbnut, I completely blanked on checking out the SoulCycle bike. Thanks to a cheap knock-off Cronut, I have inched closer in the direction of atrophying into a huffing, puffing flab factory on feet. Pass the chocolate.

Note: my friend Jackie Cangro has written an excellent post about Faux-nuts and I urge you to check it out here.

Lame Adventure 385: Fashion Statement?

It’s been a busy summer over here in Lame Adventures-land. But, my fashion police friend, Coco, shattered my concentration from my current passion — I know everyone saw this one coming — studying spots, with this illustrated email.

Tag, you're it!

Tag, you’re it!

Yes, really tagged.

Yes, really tagged.

Coco: I normally would not take a picture of a stranger’s ass but did this chick just steal these pants?

Me: Really good question. How could she not know that thing’s there?

Coco: How embarrassing not to mention uncomfortable.

Me: Would only that store’s sensor activate? Or, when she bought them did the clerk fail to remove it and she decided to just flaunt it, the ultimate “I don’t give a shit” attitude?

Coco: I’m pretty sure it would trigger other store sensors. Although this idiot probably wouldn’t realize she was the one setting the alarm off. If the clerk failed to take it off, anyone with half a brain would take the pants back to the store in a bag and ask them to remove it. What an idiot. She doesn’t even have the sense to wear a shirt long enough to cover it.

Coco raises so many good points here. But she did not take it upon herself to ask a pertinent question to the wearer that could have solved this mystery:

Coco’s unasked question: Are you aware that you’re wearing a store security tag?

Upon further reflection, having a store security tag planted on one’s person might just be a way to attract attention, maybe make new friends? Or, if life could imitate the kind of chick flick that usually makes me retch copiously, it’s a way to meet one’s soul mate cute. It is possible that this person lost her receipt and was determined to wear these pants anyway. On the other hand, a two second Google search explains how to remove these types of tags. Possibly, she is truly absent-minded or just completely clueless, but I’m not convinced of that. In conclusion, I’m joining Team Coco. I vote: idiot.

What do you think, fellow Lame Adventurers?

Lame Adventure 375: Sappy Encounter with a Sapling

The other night I was walking north on Columbus Avenue. A handsome young hustler dressed 127 times better than me — my rumpled tee shirt with a dried Liquid Nails stain on the sleeve magnified that factoid, approached. He declared:

Handsome Young Hustler: You look like a nice person.

Me (thinking): Don’t hit me for money, Sonny.

Me (saying): Looks are deceiving. If you want me to give you the time, it’s 8:02. If you want me to open my wallet, fat chance.

Handsome Young Hustler: But I just got out of the hospital!

Me: Keep that in mind the next time you go hipster hat shopping.

Earlier that same evening I had an infinitely more pleasant encounter with another sapling on West End Avenue. This one was not of the panhandling variety. It was a freshly planted Hackberry tree that I considered worthy of photographing.

A tree grows in Manhattan.

A tree grows in Manhattan.

I restrained myself from snapping any images of the French bulldog evacuating its supper at the tree’s base. Whenever I stop to photograph something, even something as seemingly mundane as this young tree, that’s when people walking along the sidewalk take notice, and punt pups are inspired to heed the call of nature. The dog’s owner did pick up after his relieved beast.

Tree pride!

A tree name so lovely it inspires fruit craving and loud throat clearing.

Right now, New York City is in the midst of a project called Million Trees NYC. As the tag declares, this tree is one in a million. Specifically, 220,000 street trees are being planted along with 780,000 others destined for parks and private partners. I think the latter refers to private homeowners who would like to adopt a tree. I would do that myself, but growing a tree in one’s apartment is not an option that this program condones because the people that run it are not mentally defective.

Tree care tips.

Tree care tips tag — can’t wait to see how that’s hanging in March.

The tree that previously stood where this sapling now stands was knocked down when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Tri-state area last October. Looking at that tree gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I thought:

Me (thinking): Ah, how wonderful, new life!

I returned home compelled to research the Hackberry. My curiosity quickly entered freefall and I landed with a rude thud. Apparently the tree I found so charming is one that’s considered good for almost nothing. An article published on Reporter Herald implies that the Hackberry is about a half step above a Chia pet and its wood is of very low value:

“No one uses hackberry wood to make wine barrels, whiskey casks or fine hardwood furniture. Mostly, people cut down hackberries just to get rid of them. Occasionally, the wood is claimed for crates or pallets; sometimes it gets burned as firewood.”

Apparently, the Hackberry, which is planted all over this fine metropolis, is the tree equivalent to the ubiquitous pigeon — my choice for state bird, should anyone ask. I admit that my areas of expertise, tile labeling and sleeping, often done simultaneously, are a bit of distance from having a clue about botany. In fact, I can barely tell the difference between a redwood and a Douglas Fir even if both uprooted and fell on me simultaneously. I do know that were that to occur, it would hurt significantly.

This sap still likes that sapling very much. If Barbara Walters, who this week gave her year-long notice that she is retiring from network TV in 2014, so she’ll surely be conducting a final few fat fish interviews, decided to ditch her credibility and engage in this exchange with a smelt:

Barbara Walters: If you were a tree, what would you be?

I would proudly declare:

Me: What else but a Hackberry!

We even resemble each other a bit around the leaves.

We even resemble each other a bit around the rumpled leaves.

Lame Adventure 369: What a Scream

Last week, I suggested to Milton that after work on Friday might be a good time for us to visit the Museum of Modern Art. Every Friday between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m., admission is free — our second favorite four-letter f-word.

Nice price.

Nice price.

Milton’s favorite four-letter f-word is:

Milton: Food.

Time was running out for us to catch Edvard Munch’s The Scream for it is on display only until April 29. Last May, a private collector who is believed to be a businessman named Leon Black, purchased this iconic artwork to the tune of $119.9 million. Black’s net worth as of September 2012 is $3.5 billion, so he’s still living well within his means.  Visitors are permitted to photograph it provided they turn off their camera’s flash. Museum-goers that fail to play by the rules are hauled off by security to the fourth floor where they’re forced to stare at this oil on canvas painting by Brice Marden for an hour as punishment.

Return I

Return I. 1964-65

When Milton viewed at it he declared:

Milton: I’d get more turned on looking at a piece of sheet rock.

MoMA is always crowded after 4 pm on Fridays. Many of the visitors are tourists as well as locals eager to pass on paying the $26 admission fee. We knew that The Scream was on exhibit on the fifth floor so we headed there first. We checked out a few seminal paintings in MoMA’s collection.  Milton particularly loved this one by Modigliani.

Anna Zborowska. 1917

Anna Zborowska. 1917

I photographed the one next to it to placate my readers who are always salivating for some nudity. You know who you are.

Reclining Nude. 1919

Reclining Nude. 1919

A guard told us to cut through the gallery showing Monet’s water lilies to reach The Scream.

Water Lilies. 1914-1926

Water Lilies. 1914-1926

Then, head for the clusterfuck. She did not use the word ‘clusterfuck’, but she told us what we anticipated: that it would be crowded.

Scream mania.

Scream mania.

When we found it we first saw the throng standing before it, some as if they were in a trance.

The Scream. 1895

The Scream. 1895

When we finally reached it Milton was clearly unimpressed and was not shy about declaring that, but he kept his voice low so we were not beaten with an easel. We moved onto another Munch called The Storm.

The Storm. 1893

The Storm. 1893

This one rated Milton’s seal of approval. Besides creating four versions of The Scream, Munch also made 30 lithographs of it. Here’s one.

The Scream. Lithograph. 1895. Signed in 1896 (Guess Munch had higher priorities before he got around to signing.)

The Scream. Lithograph. 1895. Signed in 1896 (Guess Munch had higher priorities before he got around to signing it.)

There was no crowd around it, so clearly the crowds are drawn to colorized terror. Before ducking out of the Munch exhibit, we also saw this self-portrait he painted in 1895, the year he made The Scream.

Self portait of Munch at age 31. 1895. Signed 1896.

Self portrait of Munch at age 31. 1895. Signed 1896.

Next, we glimpsed a Van Gogh.

The Starry Night. 1889

The Starry Night. 1889

We caught some Brancusi sculptures that irritated Milton. He particularly hated a piece in wood.

Milton: What’s this called?

I relished my response.

Me: Cock.

The Cock. Paris 1924

The Cock. Paris 1924

Milton gave me the hairy eyeball.  I added:

Me: It does look kinda chicken-y.

When we entered the gallery displaying Mondrian, Milton groaned.

Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow. 1937-42

Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow. 1937-42

Milton hates minimalism.  When he saw an oil on canvas by Patrick Henry Bruce that took Bruce two years to paint that he called Painting, Milton said that the only thing he liked about it was the box frame.

Painting. 1929-30

Painting. 1929-30

We savored one of Milton’s all-time favorite paintings, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 1907

Then, we headed down to the fourth floor, the floor Milton refers to as:

Milton: The Joke Floor.

We took the stairs.  Under the staircase, we saw this sculpture called Untitled by Robert Morris. 

Untitled. 1968 What Becomes of Sweaters. 2013

Untitled. 1968

It’s made from felt, copper tubing, asphalt, steel cable, lead and double-sided mirrors. The architect Philip Johnson donated it in 1984, possibly after he did some major spring-cleaning. Milton came up with his own name for the piece:

Milton: What Becomes of Sweaters.

The Joke Floor pieces that have convinced Milton that he and I are in the wrong line of work, or we must be sleeping with the wrong people, include this oil on cotton by Robert Ryman called Twin.

Twin. 1966 (Or, Why Didn't We Think of This 1? 2013)

Twin. 1966

This ten-foot-tall plywood plank by John McCracken called The Absolutely Naked Fragrance.

The Absolutely Naked Fragrance. 1967 (Or, Why Didn't We Think of This 2? 2013)

The Absolutely Naked Fragrance. 1967

And Milton’s personal most-favorite-piece-to-hate, Primary Light Group: Red, Green, Blue by Jo Baer.  Fortunately he did not read the description for these three panels actually belong in a series of twelve.

Primary Light Group: Red, Green, Blue. 1964-65

Primary Light Group: Red, Green, Blue. 1964-65

As we walked past a Frank Stella painting, Milton asked:

Milton: What is this, an airline logo?

Me: It’s called Empress of India. That’s apparent.

Empress of India. 1965

Empress of India. 1965

As I was photographing the Stella piece, I heard convulsions — coming from Milton. He was overcome with laughter when he saw a new museum purchase, Richard Serra’s Delineator

Delineator. 1974-75

Delineator. 1974-75

This massive sculpture is comprised of two sheets of hot rolled steel. One laid out on the gallery floor and the other, overhangs the floor piece. What reduced Milton and then me, to two laughing fools, was the little origami sculpture lying in the center of it. It was hard to zoom in to get a focused shot.

Delineator origami a.k.a. "What the hell is that?"

Delineator origami a.k.a. “What the hell is that?”

We nearly missed seeing the piece suspended from the ceiling. Fortunately, Milton noticed it and he asked:

Milton: What is that, mold?

Delineator ceiling sculpture.

Delineator ceiling sculpture.

Later, I learned that the biggest joke had been on our fellow museum-goers and us. I had photographed the sign describing the piece, but didn’t read it. I’ll admit it, I was laughing hysterically as I snapped this shot.

We should have read this.

Milton and I missed our opportunity to Riverdance on a MoMA installation!

Someone not only walked on it, but they placed that little sculpture on it that the museum janitor probably trashed later. It’s not part of the exhibit even though everyone viewing it with us assumed that it was, and of course, everyone played by the rules and we thought that included not walking on art. Now that’s a scream.

Lame Adventure 367: New tradition?

Last Wednesday at The Grind I sent my boss, Elsbeth, the following email:

Me: I’d like to take this Friday, Good Friday, off. I have a lot of praying to do.

Elsbeth emailed me back:

Elsbeth: Okay.

I had had a late night hanging out with Milton the Thursday before so I slept in Good Friday morning. As planned, I woke praying:

Me (praying): Please don’t let it be noon.

I looked at the time on my dumb phone and saw that my prayers were indeed answered. It was only 11:57. I showered and then stepped out to run an errand. I went shopping for bananas.  Upon returning to my sanctum santorum, I saw that in the span of my twenty-minute absence, a hydrangea had been placed in my building’s vestibule.

Hydrangea 2013

Hydrangea 2013

As I flirted with tearing a groin muscle to photograph it in natural light; I had to prop the front door open with my right leg while stretching the rest of my body like Elastigirl from The Incredibles to take the shot, it occurred to me that this is the first Easter season that my building has not had a traditional Easter lily in the vestibule.  How did I feel about that?

Me (thinking):  There must have been a half-price special on hydrangeas.

Personally, I prefer the lily.  It smelled fragrant, didn’t irritate my nasal allergies, and I think it’s an infinitely more attractive plant. Am I right or am I right?

Easter Lily 2012

Easter Lily 2012

On the other hand, pictured below is how Easter is traditionally celebrated within the confines of my hovel.

The size and feel of an egg, but it's actually an egg-shaped superball!

The size and feel of an egg, but it’s actually an egg-shaped superball!

When on a sugar high after stuffing oneself with chocolate matzoh, you might find yourself bouncing your superball egg like crazy.

When on a sugar high after stuffing yourself with chocolate matzoh, you might find yourself bouncing your egg-shape superball like crazy.

Lame Adventure 366: Birds of a Feather

I thought it was an interesting coincidence that on a day when I found myself nodding out at my desk at The Grind, a pigeon that perched outside my window had the same idea.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Where we diverged was that after it completed its snooze, the reinvigorated avian extravagantly stretched its wings and took flight. I remained in groggy land-locked captivity on the other side of the bars. It’s possible that I drooled.

The Boss had ordered me to work on a Very Important Assignment, the kind of mission with no margin for error. If it’s screwed up she’ll likely have her head handed to her on a plate. Therefore, I am under pressure to be perfect. Even if nothing is screwed up, I can foresee someone down the line getting cranky about some aspect of this project and blaming her. This brings to mind that I have a tendency to philosophically reflect on my fellow man, or on the woman that announced to me, just as an off-Broadway  play that I was volunteer ushering was about to start:

Woman (whispering): You’re sitting in my husband’s seat.

I nearly suffered a heart attack. The House Manager had assigned me that sixth row dead center seat. He’s always on top of his game. I thought:

Me (thinking): The play’s starting RIGHT THIS SECOND. What am I going to do?

Lightning fast, I spring to my feet and apologize profusely for this snafu. I envisioned her husband bolting out of the bathroom, bursting through the house’s closed doors and hotfooting down the aisle at that very moment.

The woman reveals:

Woman: I turned his ticket into the box office. He’s not here. Sit!

She finds my heart stopping terror hilarious. As a volunteer with an obligation to represent this theater in the best possible light at all times, I press my personal mute button hard to silence what I am thinking:

Me (thinking): Are you a psychotic crazy person?  Was that really necessary to say to me right at curtain?

I suffered shallow breathing well into the first act. When an ominous looking bread knife was brandished on stage, I realized that there just might be a little Norman Bates in me, too, but I digress. As I tend to philosophically reflect on my fellow man and woman, factoring in my own experiences with members of the human race, I have concluded that many people are assholes.

Other people at my company are basically treating this project that my boss is spearheading like a hot potato. No one wants to touch it. Therefore, the potato has been handed to me. Maybe when it’s finished I should ask for a title upgrade to Minister of Potato. If I were Elsbeth, my superior, I would have dumped it on me, too. I’m excellent with detail, over-educated and underpaid. What a bargain until …

Oops.

Oops.

I lose consciousness and key in 83,338 of a product that costs $1,416. The line item calculates to $118,007,080. Fortunately, I came to before hitting the ‘enter’ key and reduced the quantity to the intended amount: two.

In my next life, I hope I return as a New York City pigeon. I’d be free. I’d never be bored. I could fly, mate at will, stuff myself with street food, but best of all, I could crap on annoying theater patrons and get away with it. Hey, I’m just a doity boid.