Tag Archives: david letterman

Lame Adventure 90: Rainy Days and Wednesdays

For the past four days, Gotham has been cloudy and rainy.  It feels much more like October than August, but considering that most of July felt akin to being trapped in Hell’s basement, particularly while being broiled alive on the subway platform, I’m not complaining.  Well, not complaining much.  My hair does look like a big brown cloud, and I am not too thrilled about that.  Pictured below are the crippled remains of an umbrella; an umbrella that was very likely purchased by some drenched sap or sapette for around five dollars from a New York City rainstorm institution, The Umbrella Man.

Undignified ending.

The Umbrella Man is a guy, and always a guy — I have never seen an Umbrella Woman, that miraculously appears on every Gotham City street corner and outside subway stations the second it starts to rain with a pile of cheap, crummy umbrellas.  He chants, “Umbrella, umbrella, umbrella …” almost as if this word was on an endless loop.  Every so often he zeroes in on a potential customer, usually someone holding a soggy newspaper or wearing a plastic shopping bag – the definitive rainstorm fashion statement — over his or her head.  Directly, The Umbrella Man says to this target, “Five dollars,” but controls the impulse to add, “You fool.”

I’ve lived in New York so long, I remember when these guys used to charge three dollars.  Since I am almost always equipped with my own umbrella, I have two turbocharged models that might have been manufactured by Maserati for they almost pull my arm out of its socket when I press the button that opens them, it’s possible that The Umbrella Man might be charging six dollars or more by now.  One thing that I am certain of is that the quality of The Umbrella Man’s umbrellas remains trash can worthy, and that’s the likely destination of the vast majority that are not ditched in the street like the one pictured above.

Almost as soon as you open one of The Umbrella Man’s umbrellas, if there is as much as a Chihuahua’s sneeze in the air, it will instantly blow inside out, so you can imagine how sturdy they are under gale force wind.  It has occurred to me that these umbrellas might blow inside out if opened under a sunny blue sky, simply because there is an umbrella industry conspiracy in play here.  The conspiracy is that The Umbrella Man’s umbrellas are purposely designed to blow inside out to ensure that customers will either buy more umbrellas from The Umbrella Man, which could be another definition of insanity, or just before these users commit themselves to a mental institution, these same customers – people like me – break down and invest the equivalent of a one way plane fare to New Orleans on JetBlue in a top of the line umbrella instead.  Also, if I were inclined to visit New Orleans this time of year, it would probably behoove me to pack my performance-enhanced umbrella.

Returning to the subject of the defective nature of The Umbrella Man’s wares, the handles tend to be wobbly and the little round piece at the top holding the entire apparatus together has been known to fall off, especially if you’re like me and bought one that said Totes.  That batch of The Umbrella Man’s umbrellas was probably manufactured in the same third world sweat shop that produces knock off Coach and Louis Vuitton handbags.

If the user of an umbrella purchased from The Umbrella Man is able to get three uses out of it, that user is qualified to be ABC News’s Geek of the Week, and/or they should make a guest appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman to discuss this phenomenon, for it simply does not happen.

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Lame Adventure 35: A Banana a Day

I am very particular about fruit, but the fruit I am most particular about is the banana since I usually eat one every day.  Therefore, I easily eat close to 350 bananas a year.  Often, when I’m visiting friends or on vacation away from New York, I’ll go banana-less.  Although I like many other fruits — blueberries, apricots, peaches, figs, plums, pluots – and what exactly is a pluot?  You’ve come to the right place for that tidbit of knowledge.

Pluot orgy.

According to Wikipedia – and I paraphrase liberally and perversely — a pluot is the offspring of a shotgun wedding between a plum and an apricot that was the brainstorm of a now 84-year-old biologist named Floyd Zaiger.  Fortune calls Floyd “the most prolific fruit breeder in the world.”  That means that when Floyd buys his rainbow, I’ll read about it in The New York Times.  Fortune declares that Floyd’s “family-owned company, Zaiger’s Genetics, has patented more than 200 new varieties of fruit, all through conventional pollination.”  So Floyd’s fruits get it on the old-fashioned way.  When Floyd strolls the aisle of his local produce department and lingers by the cherry stand while holding a tomato, one can probably assume, “Ah ha, he’s match-making the chemato!”

Floyd in his orchard.

Enough diversion and back to the topic at hand, my long-term relationship with the banana, possibly my longest-term relationship with any foodstuff.  My daily banana eating habit has been going on for many decades. Considering all the bananas I have consumed thus far in a life where I could have easily died three times by now had I been born a dog, I am sure I have easily eaten at last ten thousand bananas, but more likely many, many more.  That calculation tells me two things, “Damn! I’ve eaten a lot of bananas!”  And, “Damn!  Am I really that old to have eaten my weight in bananas at least forty-five times – and have died three times by now had I been born a spaniel?”  How disturbing, and how disturbing to spend time figuring out those calculations.  I did recently cancel my subscription to HBO, so my calculator is filling the void.

In August 1977, when I was a kid, I was hanging out with my older brother, Axel.  We were eating chocolate covered frozen bananas in our parents’ kitchen.  Axel was a big Elvis fan.  He loved to order me to hurry up and walk our dog, Meanstreak, by shouting, “It’s Now or Never!”

So there we were in the kitchen eating our frozen bananas; Axel leaning against the sink, and I sitting in a chair.  In those days we were our own TMZ.  We were gossiping about Liz Taylor, and all of her health problems.  Axel was certain that she was going to check out soon.  I said definitively, “Naaa, your boy, Elvis, is gonna be the next one to kick.”

The next day Elvis dropped dead of a heart attack in his bathroom.

Elvis's death-wich.

Axel always likes to say that I predicted the King’s demise, but I think he had tremendous assistance from all those fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches he scarfed regularly.  I have once or twice, to my gastroenterologist’s horror, eaten a fried banana in a restaurant.  It tasted quite good.  The vast majority of bananas I eat are neither fried nor frozen.  They’re usually straight up, but often chased with a piece of dark chocolate.  As soon as the faintest spot appears, I can barely stand the taste.  I like my bananas solid yellow, even tinged with a little green.

My colleague, Ling, as well as members of my family, can eat a banana so heavy with spots, it almost looks like a leopard.  I would sooner sample fried jungle cat than eat a freckled banana.  The idea of eating either is almost enough to make me gag.  If Floyd reads this blog, I’d like to put in a request for the mush-free solid yellow banana which delays growing spots, but he’d probably advise me to just keep doing what I do, buy two at a time and deal with it.  It does not take a fruit-breeding genius to figure that out.

Ling's banana on the left. Mine on the right.

P.S.  Check out the video posted by Martini Max in the comments section of Chris Elliot channeling Marlon Brando performing the lamest banana dance ever on Late Night with David Letterman back in the day.