Category Archives: Humor

Lame Adventure 468: Period of Adjustment

This is just a post for anyone who might take a nanosecond to wonder if I still have a pulse. I do. Or, at least, I had one that bounced off the sky when a creepy crawly critter skittered across my naked thigh (the perils of wearing shorts on a hot summer’s day) in the dark of a movie theater recently. Life outside the blogosphere is still very demanding. I anticipate that it will continue to be so through the months ahead on both the work front and very soon, on the home front, when those walls will come crashing down for a while compelling me to continue my disappearing act. The home front hysteria of  this year’s mania will one day be Lame Adventurized. It’s epic.

On The Grind front, I have been adapting to working in Long Island City. The commute is about ten minutes longer from my sanctum sanctorum, I’m not feeling tortured in The New Place, but I’m not in my bliss, either. Culturally, it’s very different from Manhattan’s chic and trendy Tribeca. But, the take out is cheaper when I don’t bother to pack my organic kale lunch. I like that. There’s a nearby Greek deli that makes an excellent chicken gyro. Even though my boss and colleagues have not complained, I know that when I get that gyro, unlike my usual kale, carrots and whatever else I add to that dreariness, it stinks up our entire office something fierce. Possibly, it stinks up our entire factory. With that in mind, I’ve cooled it with inhaling gyros at my desk.

As for settling in, that’s proceeding at tai chi pace. We still have mountains of stuff to slog through and shelve. It fills much of our factory space and about two thirds of our new location’s cavernous basement. It’s overwhelming. One of our sales associates thinks that the lost ark of the covenant is somewhere in there.

Some mountains of stuff.

Mountains of overwhelming.

Last week, I ventured down to that basement with my colleague, Godsend, to look for something other than the lost ark. We didn’t find what we were seeking, but I think we stumbled upon a piece of the San Andreas Fault.

"Don't step on that!"

“Godsend, don’t step on that!”

We made a quick exit to avoid antagonizing it.

We’re fairly settled in in my department’s new office space. The Boss has planted her roots; she’s shelved both her ceramic lizard and industrial sized light bulb.

Elspeth's lizard.

Elspeth’s lizard.

Elspeth's holy honking light bulb next to cup of headache pain reliever.

Elspeth’s holy honking light bulb next to cup of headache pain reliever.

I have followed her lead on a reduced scale. I placed my polished onyx alligator between my keyboard and monitor next to my favorite mystery tile.

Gator buddy.

Gator bud and don’t ask me what the thing behind it is.

Something that I could not take with me from our former location were the pigeons that perched on the sill outside my window and the mourning doves that cooed under the air conditioner. What’s outside my window now are subway trains rumbling on the elevated track and a symphony of horns honking on Queens Boulevard. Naturally, the horns honk most when I’m on the phone.

Seven train perched outside window.

The 7 train perched outside my window.

I think I might be going through something akin to bird watching withdrawal. Occasionally, I see a few when I’m waiting for the train to take me back home to Manhattan. I find the sight of a perched pigeon comforting, particularly if that pigeon is not perched on the bookcase in my sanctum sanctorum.

A pigeon perched in LIC, so close and yet so far.

A pigeon perched in LIC. So close and yet so far.

Recently, when I was home on the Upper West Side, I had this up close and personal encounter with a feathered friend.

I wish everyone well until whenever I next resurface.

Lame Adventure 467: Goodbye Manhattan

I have not been around much lately because I have been insanely busy working long hours at The Grind. One night I worked so late when I entered the subway, the car was completely empty.

Lights on, nobody home.

Lights on, nobody home.

Another night, the trains I normally take to head uptown stopped running altogether due to track work. That was supremely irritating.

My company’s 20-year lease in Tribeca is officially up tomorrow. When I was hired eleven years ago, I asked a manager how long the company’s lease was for. He laughed heartily and indicated that it was infinitely long. That guy’s long gone. I’m still there and infinity has reached its end point. Go figure.

For the past month, we have been packing up a business that’s been housed in a six story building in a picturesque, trendy neighborhood in lower Manhattan for two decades. We have tons of stuff. I think we may have miscalculated a tad the enormity of the task.

My almost packed office with Godsend's tissues atop a file box.

My almost packed office with Godsend’s tissues atop a file box.

When we’re not packing, we’re ditching. I have personally thrown out thousands of dollars worth of tile samples. I feel melancholy about that. Stu, our founder and owner, caught me looking quizzically at a piece of tile. He ordered:

Stu: Throw it out!

I have thrown out dumpster loads of tile, so much so that I ache in parts of my body that I never knew I could feel any pain. My inner Thor is not quite the brute she used to be. Physically, this is hard and I know that psychologically it’s not easy on Stu or my boss, his wife, Elspeth. Luckily, no one is too morose. The hardest moment in this ordeal was at the beginning when The Boss was bereft over losing her cat. Fortunately, the cat was never lost. She was hiding. Animals are smart. That cat knew some heavy shit was going on and she wanted nothing to do with it, but she likes to eat and sleep, so she surfaced quickly. The collective sigh of relief over that cat showing up was so loud in my department it could have registered on the Richter scale.

Sleep is so good!

Sleep is so good!

As soon as tomorrow, Tuesday, I will probably find myself working in Long Island City. That’s in Queens. The first order of business in the new location will be mega hours of unpacking. The commute will be different, the location will be different, but the people will be the same. My long-time colleague, Godsend, will continue to sit next to me. Our new building is in a desolate architecturally lacking area. There are no cool places nearby to grab a sandwich or a cupcake. No trendy bar for Godsend and I to quaff a pint at the end of the day. All I will likely want to do is head back to mainland Manhattan at warp speed. The view outside the window will be gone and so will all my pigeon pals, unless they decide to follow. I am not counting on that happening. They might be bird-brained, but they’re not idiots. They’ll take Manhattan.

"See ya! Don't wanna be ya!"

“See ya! Don’t wanna be ya!”

Lame Adventure 466: Testing My Limits

It is no secret that I am fond of pigeons. When they perch on the sill while I’m at The Grind, I welcome their visits.

Hello there!

Hello there!

I envy their freedom, their swagger and their ability to fly. The irony that they are on the outside of the bars while I’m on the inside is not lost on me. Every so often, mourning doves come around, too, like this pair that visited last month.

Mourning doves hanging out.

Mourning doves that dropped by.

Following a Sunday outing with my friend, Milton, I returned home, entered my abode and noticed that I had a guest perched on my bookshelf.

Guest inside my sanctum sanctorum.

Guest inside my sanctum sanctorum: “If I stay very, very still, I’m sure I’ll be invisible to her.”

I have been under a tremendous amount of stress in recent months. Nothing bad is going on, but I have been extremely preoccupied both at The Grind and on my own time. Two days earlier, on Friday before heading to the subway to go to The Grind, I heard a rustling sound inside my non-working fireplace.

It didn’t faze me.

As I was looking at the guest perched on my bookshelf, my first thought was:

Me: Huh. When did I get a stuffed pigeon?

Then, my guest blinked. I thought:

Me: Holy shit!

Next, I called Building Management. They were home in Brooklyn. They were unfazed, too. They told me to open the window.

Building Management: It’ll find its way out.

Me: How long might that take?

Building Management: Hit it with a broom.

Me (thinking): No way am I hitting it with a broom and risk literally scaring the crap out of it all over the place!

Me (saying): I don’t have a broom.

I have a vacuum cleaner and a whisk broom with a plastic frog handle.

Frog broom.

Frog broom.

Next, I called Milton. He laughed for five minutes straight, then advised:

Milton: Put on your rubber gloves, pick it up and throw it out the window!

Me: Are you insane? I have to climb up to it, it’s going to see me approaching, that should freak it out and then it might fly right at me. I’ll have a heart attack!

Milton: Hit it with a broom!

What is this about people wanting me to hit this poor creature with a broom? I’m not a violent person, I don’t own a broom and I would never hit it with a vacuum cleaner. It occurred to me that it had been in my apartment for three days, probably perched on that shelf the entire time, traumatized in these strange surroundings. It might have watched me ride my spin bike. Seeing me huff and puff in spandex could have traumatized it further. Had it flown around then, I would have certainly had a seizure. It is perverse to think that I had been completely oblivious to a pigeon perched inside my apartment for 72 hours.

It also occurred to me that it had not had anything to eat or drink since it flew out of the fireplace. Because I was not anticipating its visit, I didn’t have any appropriate provisions on hand: birdseed, bagel or pizza. Therefore, I was forced to improvise. I poured pellets of organic kamut, an ancient grain, and some water in a bowl. I placed the meal on a magazine outside the open window, hoping that my guest would chow down, then take the hint and fly away.

My guest didn’t stir.

So, I whistled.

My guest didn’t stir.

I clapped my hands.

My guest didn’t stir.

I shouted:

Me: Hey Birdy, look over here! Food, water, an open window!

Food, water and a Stella Artois ad to crap on, if nature calls.

Food, water and a Stella Artois ad to crap on if nature calls.

My guest didn’t stir.

I took a roll of wrapping paper and tapped it lightly on the talon.

My guest stirred big time, perched briefly on my spin bike’s handlebars and then flew behind a stack of sneaker boxes in an attempt to hide. I cleared the barricade. It was terrified and tried to press itself deeper against the wall. I felt so sorry for it. Then, a piece of a metal fan stand I have been meaning to throw out for the past two years, fell on its wing.

I nearly suffered a stroke and feared that the wing had been broken. Quickly I lifted off the fan stand. Luckily, the wing seemed okay. I was so grateful that stand did not hit it on its head.

I swooped down with gloved hands and picked it up. Pigeons are rather light. Its wings were flapping frantically. I extended my arms out the window, opened my hands and as it started to fly away, a breeze blew the cord from my blinds out the window and the pigeon got caught in the cord. I feared that the cord was strangling it, but only its wing was caught in the cord. It freed itself and flew straight to a tree across the courtyard.

Out this wide open window Birdy flew!

Out this wide open window Birdy flew! Eventually.

We both breathed an epic sigh of relief.

I have not found a single dropping. It was a considerate guest.

But I really prefer you guys perched outside.

But I really prefer you guys perched outside.

Lame Adventure 465: Here comes the Pride

Last Friday morning, I was sitting at my desk at The Grind when I noticed an alert on my iPhone.

Wow!!!!

Wow!!!!

Even though I thought the odds were good that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of same sex marriage, it still seemed remarkable. The cynic in me, which coincidentally comprises 99.9% of my being, never thought that this day would happen in my lifetime. Much to my relief I still have a pulse.

This past Sunday, I attended the Gay Pride Parade on Fifth Avenue with my friend, Milton. The atmosphere, on the heels of this historic ruling, was euphoric. Posted below are some of the more than 1,100 photographs he and I shot of the celebration.

Well said ... even if the placard was corporate sponsored.

Well said … even if the placard was corporate sponsored.

Manly cake toppers.

Manly cake toppers.

Jubilant marcher all wrapped up in the rainbow flag.

Jubilant marcher all wrapped up in the rainbow flag.

Yes, it is!

Yes, it is!

Dancing in the street and left the baseball cap at home.

Dancing in the street and left the baseball cap at home.

Togetherness.

Togetherness.

Grand marshal Sir Derek Jacobi.

Grand marshal Sir Derek Jacobi.

Grand marshal Sir Ian McKellen.

Grand marshal Sir Ian McKellen.

Lea Delaria making a grand entrance to the delight of the crowd.

Lea Delaria making a grand entrance in a vintage gas guzzler to the delight of the crowd.

Bearadonna's back!

Bearadonna’s back!

Little kid marching.

Little kid marching.

Easy rider.

Easy rider.

Easiest rider.

Easiest rider.

The perfect place and occasion to don the gay apparel.

The perfect place and occasion to don the gay apparel.

What the hell is it pride.

What the hell is it pride.

Super charged dude who slipped and fell a split second after this picture was taken. He bounced right back up.

Super charged dude who slipped and fell a split second after this picture was taken. He bounced right back up.

Hello Carmen Miranda!

Hello Carmen Miranda!

Happy faces.

Happy faces.

Got makeup?

Got makeup?

Pride shades.

Pride shades.

Love rules husbands.

Love rules husbands.

Wife & wife.

Wife & wife.

New York Police band playing "Here Comes the Bride."

New York Police band playing “Here Comes the Bride.”

Impressive tattoo.

Impressive tattoo.

What the hell is this?

What the hell is this?

Good advice.

Good advice.

US of Pride.

US of Pride.

Time to wear the golden wings.

Time to wear the golden wings.

Euphoria.

Euphoria.

High energy.

High energy.

Pride pooch.

Pride pooch.

Everyone is welcome and bring the toucan.

Everyone is welcome and bring the toucan.

Nice smiles.

Nice smiles.

Corporate sponsor Chase and an exposed breast.

Corporate sponsor Chase and an exposed breast: together at last.

One size probably does not fit all.

One size probably does not fit all.

More what the hell is it?

More what the hell is it?

Flag tossing.

Flag tossing.

Proud couple.

Proud couple.

Hitching a ride.

Hitching a ride.

Dominatrix with cellphone pride.

Dominatrix with riding crop and cellphone pride.

Waving the flag of the Republic of China.

Waving the flag of the Republic of China.

Pucker up.

Pucker up.

That time of year to wear the rainbow kilt.

That time of year to wear the rainbow kilt.

What the hell is this now?

What the hell is this now?

No so basic black attire.

Not so basic black attire.

Statement cape.

Statement cape.

Riding in style.

Riding in style.

Marchers waving flags.

Marchers waving flags.

Gay dads and their wee one.

Gay dads and their wee one.

What you see is what you get: red headdress and stilt walkers.

What you see is what you get: red headdress and stilt walkers.

Japanese Kabuki fan pride.

Japanese Kabuki fan pride.

Novel way to wear football shoulder pads.

Novel way to wear football shoulder pads.

Pride hijinks.

Pride hijinks.

Dancing in the street.

Dancing in the street.

Seriously hitched.

Seriously hitched.

Pride and joy and iced tea.

Pride and joy and iced tea.

Proud couple.

Proud couple.

Then, when it was all over, Milton and I returned to our respective sanctum sanctorums. I began writing this post and he turned on the TV news where he saw who else, but us.

Bald guy and short woman to his right: Milton and me at Pride 2015.

Bald guy and short woman clad in black in center of frame: Milton and me at Pride 2015.

The Empire State Building celebrating Pride.

The Empire State Building celebrating Pride.

Lame Adventure 464: The Power of Suggestion Written in Chalk

I was walking east along West 75th Street en route to my neighborhood market for organic kale and a carrot when I encountered a message on the sidewalk:

Good idea!

Good idea!

At that moment, my destiny seemed perfectly in line with cliché-addled sidewalk sentiment: get the kale and the carrot. Which is exactly what I did. As I was about to take my place in the supermarket check out line, a woman around fifty smiled at me in a friendly way. Then she cut in front of me. Possibly the friendly smile was a ruse to offset her stealing my place in line. Possibly she was thinking:

Place stealer: I can take this pushover.

Because I was only holding a bunch of leafy greens and a single root vegetable, as opposed to a mallet and a spear, I knew on the scale of intimidation factor with one being Caspar Milquetoast and ten, Charles Manson, I likely measured in the negative numbers. So, I didn’t bother arguing. Instead, I was thinking about fulfilling my destiny. Since I’ve held off doing this for the better part of fifty-six years, I’m going to take off about a month to work on fulfilling mine, or to catch up on power sleeping, whichever comes to me first. Meet me back here in June.

Lame Adventure 463: Way Back Machine Encounter with a Rock Legend

Like many hardcore New Yorkers, I was born someplace else. In my case, it was San Francisco, a lovely city where I did my earliest lame adventuring. Bruce Thiesen, a Bay Area native who writes the blog, Ram On, recently published a post featuring verse by Patti Smith that triggered memories of an up close and personal encounter I had with her in May 1978.

Patti was on tour promoting her latest album, Easter. It featured her biggest mainstream hit, a song she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen called Because the Night. It reached number 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. She had also just published a book of poetry called Babel. I saw her on that tour when she played a fantastic concert at Winterland Arena. The next day, the San Francisco Chronicle’s music critic, Joel Selvin, published a rave review of her performance. He compared her “to a young Mick Jagger”. Mick was 34. Patti was 31.

Patti was appearing at B. Dalton Booksellers on Sutter and Kearny Streets in San Francisco’s financial district where she was signing Babel. I had a copy that I wanted autographed. I also packed my camera, a 35 mm Minolta SRT201. That was my parents’ reward to me for both graduating high school and getting accepted into San Francisco State University. It was their way of encouraging their slacker to graduate college, a feat that took me seven years to achieve, just like Sarah Palin. I attended my class in some subject that made absolutely no lasting impression, and then jetted over to Dalton’s. I was such a sloth it never occurred to me to cut class. That was very Bozo, for there was a line of people streaming out of the store and down Kearny Street; what appeared to me to be far more people than those that attended the concert. The cynic in me, who coincidentally comprises most of me, sensed that these were people that were there only because they read Selvin’s review and very few were actual fans.

It was apparent that I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting in to have my book signed, much less to take her picture. But I knew that my camera looked professional enough. A young guy in front of me, who had attended the show, held my place in line so I could slip into the store to take a shot.

So near and yet so far.

So near and yet so far.

When a store worker came outside to confirm my fear that we would not gain entry, I spewed a bald faced lie. I claimed that I was supposed to photograph her for the Phoenix, State’s campus newspaper. Swallowing the bait whole, he instructed me to go to the freight entrance where she’d be exiting.

Freight elevator door opened. black speck between hoodie man's shoulder and guy inside is Patti's bowler hat.

Freight elevator door opened. Black speck between hoodie man’s shoulder and guy inside is Patti’s bowler hat.

So, there I was, 19-years-old but I could still easily pass for 12, with the real deal all-male press. When she exited that elevator, in a bowler hat and a ratty fake fur jacket, I jumped in front of all those guys, and started snapping shots.

Shooting while making my move through masses of males.

Shooting while making my move through masses of males.

What I didn’t anticipate was Patti wrapping her arm around me and holding me close. I kept taking pictures. My adrenaline was pumping.

Patti Smith's profile while I am taking pictures of her.

Patti Smith’s profile while I am taking pictures of her.

Me (thinking): Patti Smith is holding me! This is so cool! I can see up her nose!

Looking up Patti Smith's nose.

Looking up Patti Smith’s nose.

When she saw the beat-up VW van her record label had waiting for her, she said in an incredulous tone:

Patti Smith: I came early and I stayed late and this is my limousine? This is the best that Arista* can do for me?

She turned to me:

Patti Smith: Wanna go to San Diego?

She held me closer and insisted:

Patti Smith: C’mon!

A security guard the size of a redwood approached.

Mr. Big: Let the kid go.

Just as he was going to grab me, she let me out of her grasp and entered the van.

Patti's hand as she entered the van.

Patti’s hand as she entered the van.

I can still see her gesturing at me to get in. But I didn’t pursue my groupie moment further. I had to head over to Petrini’s, a supermarket near my house, to pick up the fish for the family dinner that night. If we were the type of family where the parents were inclined to ask:

Parents: How was your day?

I would have answered:

Me: I almost went to San Diego with a rock star leaving you guys to eat canned tuna!

I also dropped off that role of film for development at my neighborhood camera store.

I also dropped off that role of film for development at my neighborhood camera store.

Sometimes I wonder what might have happened had I accepted her invitation and entered that van. Then I reason that that no-nonsense guard probably would have pulled me out with such force I might have ended up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

But there is an epilogue to this lame adventure. Consider it another lame adventure that happened thirty years later here in New York. Patti and I met again. I was at a screening of a documentary about her that played the Film Forum.

Proof of my sister, Dovima's claim that we're a family of hoarders: Film Forum ticket stub circa 2008.

Proof of my sister, Dovima’s claim that we’re a family of hoarders: retained Film Forum ticket stub.

My friend, Albee, urged me to have her sign those photos I shot in 1978. He joked:

Albee: Maybe she’ll try to pick you up again?

That lightning didn’t strike twice, probably to the relief of both 61-year-old Patti and 49-year-old me, but she was still as cool as ever in person. Maybe even cooler. I finally got her autograph.

I got my satisfaction.

I got my satisfaction.

*Arista was her record label.

Lame Adventure 462: Puppy Love

I was sitting at my desk at The Grind masochistically eating my organic kale lunch, when I received a call from my building’s management announcing:

Building Management: Your lock is locked but your lock’s not locked.

Me: Huh?

They repeat that same statement.

Me: What are you saying? Have I been burglarized?

They pause.

Me: Was my door opened?

Building Management: No, it’s locked.

Me: So how was my door not locked if it was locked?

Building Management: We locked it.

Me: So you locked my door because it was unlocked?

Building Management: Yes. You didn’t lock it when you left.

They then give me a convoluted explanation about how to lock the door that I’ve been locking almost every day of my life since September 1983.

Me: I know how to lock my door. I know I locked it when I left this morning. How do you know my apartment wasn’t broken into?

They have no response to that idea. Elspeth, my boss, has heard my side of this frustrating conversation.

Elspeth: You better go home and see what’s going on. You might need to file a police report.

I doubt that anyone took my eight-year-old MacBook, spin bike or platform bed. At least I hope that. But I heed The Boss’s advice, catch a 1 local and head home to the Upper West Side. I’m calm. I don’t have a sick feeling. A light rain is falling when I exit the train at West 72nd Street and hot foot the rest of the way to my hovel. I enter my building and encounter a member of Building Management.

Building Management: Did you get the phone call? Your door was locked but it wasn’t locked. We locked it for you.

I still don’t know what that means. I walk up three flights to my sanctum sanctorum. It is locked. I enter. If anyone broke in, they were not compelled to take anything. Possibly they thought:

Would-be robber: What a dump!

I once knew someone whose place was broken into. Their stuff was so shabby the robber left two tens on the kitchen counter. Apparently, my would-be robber left with his or her disgust. As I exit my building I encounter my first bright spot of the day: an adorable Bernese Mountain Dog puppy on a red leash. She and her young guy owner are running short sprints back and forth on the sidewalk. But I’m a new distraction. She wants to check me out. She sniffs my hand and licks a knuckle. Her fluffy coat is dotted with mist from the light rain. In the idiot voice I use for delightful small animals and cute small fry I ask:

Me: And what’s your name?

Young guy (speaking in puppy voice): Bleecker!

Me: You’re in the wrong neighborhood for that name!

For non-New Yorkers, Bleecker is the name of a popular street downtown in Greenwich Village.

Young guy (speaking in puppy voice): I like it up here!

I ask her age and he tells me that she’s ten weeks old.

Me: Welcome to the Upper West Side, Bleecker.

I’m impressed that this fellow has not named his dog, Linda, and his daughter, Bleecker. Maybe the trend to call dogs people names and people dog names is reversing? My encounter with Bleecker makes me think about my beloved childhood dog, Mean Streak. When we bought him at a pet store in San Francisco the day after Christmas in 1969, the shopkeeper told us that he was part poodle, part spaniel and his coloring was similar to a Berner. Meanie shared much of the temperament of a Berner. He was loyal, faithful, intelligent, but where he diverged was that he was more inclined to snarl than be very affectionate. Wound tight by nature he was a constantly aggravated barking machine who viewed every visitor as an unwelcome intruder. Gluttons for punishment, we loved him. Meanie weighed about thirty-five pounds.

Mean Streak circa 1971: he loved having his picture taken.

Stupid Pet Trick photo. Mean Streak circa 1971: he loved having his picture taken.

I am seeing Bleecker more and more. Proving that I’m fast approaching 392 in dog years, I’ve been suffering brain freezes and I’ve almost twice called her Berkeley. She is very playful and sweet. Her fur is incredibly soft. Right now, she weighs about fifteen pounds. When I was talking to Randi, her woman co-owner, she told me that Bleecker would gain two pounds every week until she reaches her adult weight of ninety pounds. The pooch that is a little bundle of energy that eagerly stands on her hind legs with her paws pressing on my thighs might soon be placing those same paws on my shoulders. That might be more disturbing than charming, but for now, Bleecker’s stealing hearts, thieving I condone.

Bleecker sitting still for a nanosecond.

Bleecker sitting still for a nanosecond.