Tag Archives: Fairway

Lame Adventure 449: It’s the Most Familiar Time of the Year

New Year's Day hangover balloons.

New Year’s Day hangover balloons.

Sixteen hours into January 1, 2015, my holiday season officially entered the ether and the most familiar time of the year resumed. This happened when I encountered my first asshat of the New Year: a chap about my age at my go-to supermarket, Fairway. Fairway is a place where, a few years earlier on another New Year’s Day, the toes of my right foot were nearly severed by a girl not much taller than a walking stick burning rubber on a scooter in the produce section. Apparently, that moppet, with parental approval, was training to compete in the Dakar Rally via the broccoli bin. My market could serve double duty all year round as the Asshat Convention Center of America, or ACCA for short.

Fast forward to the ACCA around 4pm on New Year’s Day 2015. I am patiently waiting my turn in a cue of fellow shoppers to grab a hand basket. The man in front of me takes his hand basket that contains some detritus left behind by previous users of that basket. There is a trashcan nearby at the store’s entrance, but Mr. Asshat upends the trash from his basket into mine.

Me: Was that necessary?

Mr. Asshat looks back at me and cringes, possibly flashbacking on his nagging mother. I swipe out the detritus and dump it in the trashcan he chose to ignore. Sufficiently humiliated, he mumbles an apology before scampering down an aisle in a failed effort to turn invisible. But, I appreciated his civility, unlike the last asshat I encountered in the Old Year: a woman half my age reeking attitude.

She crossed my path on another reliable source of suffering: the New York City subway system. This episode in the series, Meet the Asshat, occurred on my second-to-last train ride before embarking on a two-week hiatus from The Grind.

Ms. Asshat was sitting on the crowded 1 local during the morning rush hour with her legs crossed, determined to give anyone near her the boot.

Shin kicker's boot.

Shin kicker’s boot.

Unlike Mr. Asshat in Fairway, my subway riding survival instinct warned that this was a Code Red Asshat, i.e., someone with the potential to detonate. Don’t provoke her. I got lucky and scored a seat allowing me to escape her foot follies. Everyone else near her came close to getting it in the shin. Her nasty expression screamed f-bomb. Fellow riders shared my cautious vibe and were mute around this volatile asshat. There are times when New Yorkers know to zip the lip.

Days later, I was in mellow mode visiting kith and kin in the San Francisco Bay Area. While in Sausalito with my best friend from college, BatPat, we strolled through a neighborhood of storybook-style houseboats docked on calm waters.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Many of these whimsical vessels belong to artists and writers.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

I flashed on ditching the steady stream of petty irritations that are such a key ingredient in big city life in exchange for the tranquility of a floating nest and the camaraderie of courteous neighbors with cool cats.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Bow's super cool houseboat home.

Bow’s super cool houseboat home.

But whom am I kidding? Within a month, or an hour, my blunt force trauma temperament would surface and I could be the resident asshat in Shangri-la.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

I am allergic to cats, I can’t swim and my astrological sign should be Seasick. I can do mellow by the shot glass, but my personality is frantic by the barrel.

Cool in principle but not for me.

The Neversail Ark: cool in principle but not for me.

Shortly after I returned from my California getaway, I was briskly walking down my block on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was five in the afternoon, a time of day that looks exactly like ten at night in winter, when I found myself doing a double take on what else? A sweating package identified as fresh chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

I don’t know what gave me the willies more: knowing that I reside in close proximity to a New York City asshat who re-gifts fowl, or later that evening, when I went out again and saw that there had been a taker. A few years ago, New York City was besieged with a bedbug epidemic. Have we graduated to salmonella sharing in 2015? Meanwhile, a New Year has dawned once again replete with a new crop of New York City asshats. The time of the year may no longer be the most wonderful, but it is certainly back to being the most familiar.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Lame Adventure 353: Fresh Start

Since I am not the type that feels particularly sentimental about the past year, the year I got grayer, flabbier, ditched, and officially arthritic, I welcome moving forward albeit a bit more like the Little Old Lady from Pasadena than Jagger.  My first text of 2013 was a few lines of heartfelt verse sent in the afternoon on New Year’s Day to one of the stars in my posse, my trusted confidant, Coco.

Me (text):  Are you up and not too hung over? If so, can you get me a pair of six eyelet black shoelaces at the Converse store in your ‘hood for my black Jack Purcells? I’ll pay you back tmr.  Thanks and Happy New Year.

Adhering to the topic like Teflon she responds:

Coco (text): Hugh Hefner is married and Kim Kardashian is preggers.  Fuck.  The Mayans have won.

I then venture outside, not for shoelaces, but for a bagel knot at my anything but super, market, Fairway.

Poppy seed bagel knot

Poppy seed bagel knot.

There, I predictably encounter my first asshole of 2013.  I bestow this honor on the father that surely left his brain cells at home in a small pile behind the coffee grinder.  He is accompanying his energetic eight or nine-year-old daughter.  She is riding a scooter inside the store as if she is going for a world record in indoor scootering.  Possibly he is just too wasted from New Year’s Eve celebrating to notice that his spawn is burning rubber and has narrowly missed slicing off the toes on my right foot.  He is also blind to the steam heat that I pack in my head that’s firing directly out of my ears in billowing puffs of smoke.

Once outside again I am pounding the pavement leading back to my sanctum sanctorum when I come across the first littered movie stub on the sidewalk. I am certain that this is not the first littered movie stub in all of New York City in 2013, but this is the first one that catches my eye.  It is lying face down, so I cannot see what film the movie going litterbug saw.  After kicking at it for the better part of fifteen seconds or possibly fifteen minutes, time is so hard to measure when relying on cloud cover, I decide to risk contracting Onychomycosis.  I am aware that rare side effects of treatment for this nail disease can lead to liver failure, and if I get that, very likely I will have a one-way ticket to the big dirt nap.  Please do not send flowers; plant a tree someplace in my memory, and call that tree Inga.  I have always wanted to get horizontal, vertical, perpendicular,  trapezoidal, and truth be told every position Spirograph-ical, with a free spirited naked woman with that name, but preferably someone full figured, yet not scary-fat, more Bettie Page-like, but I digress.

As a daring and brave worrier (sic or sick take your pick), I flip over the ticket stub with my bare fingers and see that the film is Barbara, a drama from Germany that was their official selection for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Even though it fell short of the Academy’s shortlist, my pal, Milton, has seen it and has praised it effusively. It is likely that I will never see this film because it’s not a feature that screens for seven shekels before noon at the multiplex.

Pay thirteen clams for a single movie -- not on my meager alms.

Yes, screenings of “Barbara” cost thirteen clams here in the Big Apple.

By the time Barbara hits TV, probably cable stations, IFC or the Sundance Channel, I will have long forgotten that I once wanted to see it.  I frankly prefer to invest precious and fleeting middle aged memory space in fantasizing about  free spirited naked women named Barbara desiring me.  Oops, I mean free spirited naked women named Ingrid.  Inez?  How about someone named Ida, or maybe even Idaho? At this point, I’ll even settle for a woman in a burka named Dan as long as her vagina is not dry as dust and her natural fragrance is not that redolent of salmon.  I do have standards.  Anyone offering?

Continuing on my trek, across the street from my brownstone I see the unusual sight of a muscle car from my long evaporated youth, a two door 1968 Buick Skylark.  “Cool beans,” I don’t think since I’d sooner mainline Liquid Plumr than use that expression.  I photograph it avidly figuring that I may never see this vintage of vehicle ever again.  Since it is as intriguing as it is eye sore-ish, there is the distinct possibility that it will hog space on my block long after the sheen on this New Year fades and 2013 is as dull as that forty-five-year-old jalopy’s paint.

Buick Skylark - road hog circa 1968.

Buick Skylark – road hog circa 1968.

Lame Adventure 352: Welcome Home New York City-style

I returned to New York from my holiday getaway in the San Francisco Bay Area on the red eye Friday morning.  Lack of sleep and total body pain that I self diagnosed as arthritis in my left knee, a pulled muscle in my right arm, and a slight headache combined with general suffering, a.k.a. the predominant ingredient in my charm, rendered me useless for the entirety of my first day back in the Apple.  I’d like to say that I slept dreamlessly, but it’s possible that I was merely hallucinating for twelve hours about lying motionless in a full body splint.  Before losing consciousness I did manage to run a few errands including shopping at my neighborhood market, Fairway.  I knew I was officially home when I approached the green bean stand.  Just as I was about to select my beans, a woman yammering on her iPhone placed her coffee cup over them.

Me:  Really?

The Yammerer responded with a line of classic New York City verse:

Yammerer:  What’s your problem?

The weather forecast for today is two to four inches of snow.  The New York Times published on their Cityroom Blog a post with a headline proclaiming, “Tomorrow, It Will Snow, Perfectly”.  Andy Newman wrote:

“The ideal city snowstorm, meteorological Platonists say, blankets the landscape without burying it, beautifies but does not burden, transforms and cocoons without paralyzing or even particularly inconveniencing.

Such an event is expected to come our way on Saturday.”

Tomorrow is now today, Saturday.  I’m not a “meteorological Platonist” – whatever the hell that is, but I can say with authority that it’s been a steady mix of slushy flakes and cold rain.  This scene surely would have made the Currier and Ives circular file.

I woke remembering that yesterday I had forgotten to pay a bill for my final blood test of the year.  If my memory is still as sharp as melted butter, that test was to determine that it’s more than ice water and soot flowing through my veins.  I used my last Forever stamp on the payment envelope and decided to trek through the icy slop to Ansonia Station, my local post office here on the Upper West Side, to both mail the aforementioned payment and to replenish my Forever stamps.

There was only one customer in line, a guy that had entered a nano-second before me.  Three postal clerks were servicing other customers, but a fourth was free so she called the guy over.  Now it was just me waiting.  Within seconds, a customer at the window nearest to where I was standing finished and walked away.  The clerk looked right at me.  I looked at her hopeful, and flashed a friendly California-style smile anticipating her to say, “Next.”  Instead, she walked away.  I looked at my watch and realized that I am such a knucklehead.  Obviously the time had come for her to take her one forty-three in the afternoon break.  I waited and waited.  All of the customers at the windows were like barnacles.  Finally, a clerk beckoned.  Now about ten people were waiting behind me in line.  I told the clerk that I would like twenty Forever stamps:

Me:  Do you have any with pictures other than the flag?

She took out a booklet of holiday stamps decorated with Christmas trees.

Me: Do you have anything else?

She looked at me as if I had asked her to give me a kidney.  She snarled in my face:

Postal Clerk:  Look over there.

Me:  Where’s “there”?

She gestured to her left, my right.  Under a glass covering a station over from hers was an assortment of Forever stamp designs.

Me:  Am I going to lose my place as I look for my stamp?

She did not acknowledge my question, possibly because hostility is so energy depleting.  I figured she’d grant me a three count to settle on a stamp so I looked at the display at warp-speed.  A series tailor-made for me called “Great Film Directors” caught my eye.

I resisted asking if I could have all Billy Wilder since he's one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.

I resisted asking if I could have all Billy Wilder since he’s one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.

I returned to the angry clerk’s window and told her what I had selected.  She said nothing.  She walked away as if she had boulders strapped on each ankle.  Her destination was a closed box that holds the picture stamps.  She returned with my sheet of Great Film Directors and announced:

Postal Clerk:  Nine dollars.

I handed her a twenty.  She gave me my change.  Eleven singles.

Me:  Thank you.

She gave me the stink eye.  I added:

Me:  For not giving me 220 nickels.

It’s great to be home.

Lame Adventure 346: The Old Bag is Dying

This is the right place for that idea.

Even though late at night and early in the morning, I have a cough that sounds like a death rattle and it currently feels like a colony of squirrels are performing the Gangnam Style dance inside my left knee, I am sticking around.  Now that it is October, and the weather in Gotham City is transitioning into real deal fall feel, I am savoring the final moments of tee shirt season as well as the magic hour clouds that almost appear to glow.

Magic hour cloud.

After I photographed this cloud above my Upper West Side neighborhood block, I turned my attention to the tree with the two bags tangled in its branches.

Tree with distinction of bagging today.

Same tree with hanging bags in March.

Last spring – halcyon days of tree bagging.

I can report with authority that one of the bags, the one in white plastic declaring, “thank you” — with an original purpose that was probably used in transporting a dinner delivery, entered the ether in September.  Together, lets pause and remember our departed tree bag-friend.

On that same September day in early fall, the Fairway grocery bag was continuing to hold its own.

Drunk with tree bagging power. “This tree is all mine!”

Therefore, it won Survivor: Tree Bagging.

Now, that it is October, it appears that after seven months of hang-time in that tree, nature is finally taking its toll on the surviving bag.

How the situation looked in September.

How things look in October.

It seems very possible that a drenching rainstorm coupled with the power of wicked wind, and this once hardy plastic bag that has been nestled in those branches since spring will be making its final exit.  Seasons change, leaves fall, and bags eventually disintegrate.  There you have it, the circle of tree-bag-life Lame Adventures-style.  This actually saddens me.

I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for this grocery store bag’s achievement.  The average bag likely ends up in a landfill within a week.  This bag not only survived its initial purpose, when it was used to carry groceries, but it survived the trash collector and made its escape into a tree, where it has resided since March.  It’s tackled seven months of outdoor elements.  That’s so remarkable.  What tenacity!  In bag-years, this bag is probably 90-years-old.  If a plastic bag could run for public office, this one would have made a formidable candidate.  Considering all that this heroic bag has seen from its perch, it might have been the one plastic grocery bag that could have served on the Supreme Court.  Alas, we’ll never know.  One can only wonder what this bag might say if it could talk, much less think.

“I will outlive you, bitch.”

Lame Adventure 295: Tree Trash Update

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

Colleague-approved Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Edamame.

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

Me:  Go away!

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

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

Bags still in branches eager for their close-ups.

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

White fast food delivery bag hanging in there.

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

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

Lame Adventure 257: ‘Tis the Season for Anger Management

So I was in my market, the original Fairway on the Upper West Side, patiently waiting my turn at the deli counter.  My number, 83, is called by a deli worker; a woman that’s so short she might have been a circus midget in her previous job or a previous life, but I would never hold lack of height against anyone.  Hey, I’m short, too.  I tell her I would like one third of a pound of the roast pork loin.

She doesn’t know what that is.

I can see it but it’s on the far side of the glass cases.  It’s the weekend so the deli counter is a mob scene.  In addition, I’m standing near a meticulously made-up wisp of an elderly woman swimming in a giant fur coat that some guy probably gave her in 1950 when she was a knockout.  My buddy, Coco, who is rather petite and a knockout 2011-style could be this person in sixty years.

Christmas decoration to me from Coco.

This elderly woman also has a shopping cart blocking the entire lane.  It holds a single head of lettuce.  As I try to maneuver around her, her cart and a crowd of fellow shoppers, to point out the pork loin to the clerk, the elderly lady starts moving her cart at a snail’s pace blocking me further.  I make an effort to get out of her way.

Meanwhile, Angry Man, a guy about my age – over forty and under death — and coincidentally the winner of the Paulie Walnuts You’re Gonna Die and I Mean You award, won’t move an inch to let the old lady pass.  Now I have to move around him, her, and her shopping cart to show my pint-sized clueless clerk what’s the roast pork loin.  As I’m making my way around these three obstacles, she, equipped with half the strength of a newborn hamster, brushes him from behind with her cart.  This slight contact packs as much power as an infant’s fart.

Christmas decoration to me from Coco.

When I get to the side of the counter where I can finally point out the roast pork loin to my baffled clerk who’s so short I cannot even see the top of her head behind the glass case so I’m not even sure she’s standing there, Angry Man starts shouting threats.  It takes me a while to realize that he’s directing his tirade at me, prompting me to ask:

Me:  What?

Angry Man (screaming):  You shoved me!  Now it’s my turn to shove you and believe me, you’re not gonna like it!

He steps towards me ready to commit assault.  I step back.

Me (incredulous):  Huh?  Why do you want to shove me?

Angry Man (insistent):  You know what you did!  You’re rude!  You shoved me!

I know that there’s no point telling him that it was Miss Subway 1942 that was the culprit since she is also half-blind, long gone and he wouldn’t step aside to let her pass.  I decide to just pretend that I’m guilty of the offense to placate him.

Me:  I’m sorry, Sir, I wasn’t aware that I shoved you, but since I did, I apologize.

Angry Man (obsessed):  You shoved me!

Me:  Look at me, I’m tiny, I would certainly never intentionally shove anyone, much less a guy your size.

He’s at least a foot taller than me and 75 pounds heavier.   That frazzles him, so he pipes down.  Then, out of the blue, Miss Buttinsky, just the type that Coco would call – but not in these exact words, a “vagina-bag” standing next to Angry Man — and they weren’t together , volunteers her two cents:

Miss Buttinsky:  You shoved him and you know it!  You can’t get out of this by acting innocent now!

I instantly think:

Me (thinking):  Who the [sexual intercourse] are you?

Miss Buttinsky clearly wants to see blood and preferably, mine.  Her spouting off reinvigorates Angry Man.

Meanwhile my miniature clerk is now also yelling at me wanting to know if she’s holding the right deli meat.  I say:

Me:  Yes, one third of a pound please.

Angry Man is screaming at me again, the same nonsense about me being rude:

Angry Man:  I’m gonna make a fist and make you pay!

I think:

Me (thinking):  Pay for a blow job and relax!

I say:

Me:  That’s not necessary to threaten to assault me.  I’ve apologized.  It certainly wasn’t intentional.  Look around, this store is crowded.

I gesture around us at the mass of humanity and I stifle the need to murmur a scatological term meaning excrement knowing full well that I’m surrounded by enemies I never knew I had.

Angry Man again defuses.

Miss Buttinsky (self-righteous even though she did not see anything that happened involving either the now long gone elderly lady or me):  You should have said ‘excuse me’ to him!

I suddenly regret my life-long loathing of the NRA.  If I owned a pistol, I easily could have whipped her on the spot.  I choose to say nothing further and continue to completely ignore her.  Angry Man starts whining about me to another customer.  The tiniest clerk on the planet then gives me one quarter of a pound of deli meat even though I repeatedly requested a third.  I just take it and split feeling lucky to be alive and less mentally ill than my fellow customers.  I head over to the bakery hoping that Santa gifts my deli-peers anger management courses as stocking stuffers.

Since I’m on a downhill slide, I again encounter that elderly lady, who I have now decided is my own personal jinx.  In a plastic bag, I put both a sandwich roll and a sour dough roll, but I am oblivious to the bag being defective.  It has a hole.  My sour dough roll slips through and falls on the floor, but I don’t notice this.  I feel lucky that Miss Buttinsky and Angry Man did not witness this.  Surely, she would have tried to have me arrested for vandalizing the store and if this case would come to trial, both would vote in favor of execution.

I return home and hide beneath my bed for the remainder of the day.

Poster illustrating the few calm people that shop at Fairway.

Lame Adventure 223: Anticipating Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene has yet to arrive, it is getting breezy outside my apartment’s window, but most people seem to have gotten the memo – streets are quiet and roads are empty.  My core group of dearest friends and I are predominantly safe (for now).

Tree outside my window that could possibly kill me if it uproots, crashes through my window and I fail to dive into my bathroom fast enough.

Even though we all share a degree of cynicism about Irene taking on Gotham City and the tristate area, no one seems too inclined to do anything too ridiculous.  This excludes my cabin fever suffering Friend From Jersey, Martini Max, who has already made an impulse purchase, specifically this poster of Theda Bara circa 1915.

Theda Bara tearing her hair out for Max. Still from her lost film called "Sin."

He intends to hang it over his TV.  Did I mention that Max is divorced?

Milton is nestled in his Upper East Side apartment with plenty of staples and some massive dessert he waxed about poetically.  While waiting for Irene we discussed our New York Film Festival ticket buying strategy for an hour.  We’re very dull that way.

My sidekick, Greg, is housebound in Brooklyn.  From his texts I’m under the impression that he’s feeling a tad grumpy.

Lola, who also resides in Brooklyn, was evacuated, but she’s made the best of a bad situation.  She’s with her boyfriend in Manhattan, taking it easy.  When I last spoke to her she said he was cooking.  What a guy.

Albee has extended his visit to California until Tuesday.

Ling texted me that she is about three hours away from the city.  On Friday Coco asked me:

Coco:  Where’s Ling?

Me:  At a wedding in Toronto.

Coco:  Oh!  Who got married?

Me:  Lowell’s [editorial comment: Ling’s guy] parents next-door neighbors’ brother’s son.

In response to that response Coco’s eyes glazed over.  Hopefully, Ling will make it back before the heavy rain starts to fall and the wind picks up.

This morning, I took some pictures of unusual sites on the Upper West Side.  Both Fairway and Trader Joe’s closed early.

Eerie site: empty fruit bins outside the Upper West Side's Fairway.

Eerier site: the store that is open every day, closed.

A Guy About My Age (GAMA or JERK) with the physique of a noodle tossed an out of body fit at the burly-direct-descendant-of-Thor-bouncer standing guard outside Fairway’s closed doors.

GAMA or JERK: Why close the store?  This is ridiculous!  The subways are running until noon!

Note:  It’s after 11 am.

Burly Bouncer:  You should have gotten here earlier.  The store’s closed.

GAMA or JERK sneers at the Bouncer, a sneer about as threatening as a Chihuahua’s sneeze.  The Bouncer returns the gaze that I translated as:

Bouncer’s Gaze:  Sucks to be you fool.

I took these other pictures in my neighborhood.

Closed Trader Joe's at 72nd Street and Broadway.

Typical TJ's cheeriness. Why I prefer to shop at jaded Fairway.

Baffled tourists trying to figure out how to escape the city reading a subway map.

MTA poster announcing mass transit closing.

One of the last 1 local subway trains entering 72nd Street station.

FedEx making deliveries.

Time Warner cable is there; but when I need them, they're always nowhere to be found. Grrrrr.

My sister, Dovima, has texted me that our 84-year-old father out on the West Coast would rather talk to me on Sunday, during the heart of Irene possibly pummeling Manhattan into oblivion and knocking out my cell phone service.  He is busy watching sports on TV tonight.   I texted her back to tell him to call me next week.

I was supposed to usher an off-Broadway play today, but all theaters on and off-Broadway are dark.

Coco lives in the meatpacking district in lower Manhattan, near, but not in an evacuation zone.  The intrepid type, in lieu of a flashlight, she has glow sticks.

Coco's glow sticks.

Donning her Lame Adventures journey(wo)man photographer hat Coco has also emailed me these pictures from downtown.

Brilliant time to be on a cruise in the Hudson River.

Apocalypse approaching?

Lame Adventure 138: Well Hung Sprouts

Earlier this week I was food-shopping in Fairway when I saw they had stalks of Brussels sprouts.  “Oh happy day!” I gushed to myself.  This is not a very common occurrence.  Just as some may dream of designer clothes, swanky sports cars, or other hard to attain bling, I am so steam rolled by this dismal economy I prefer to keep my fantasies in check.  Therefore, I muse about finding cheap theater tickets, Tom’s toothpaste on sale and food.

Beauty pagent sprouts

Yet, what exactly would I do with this fantasy vegetable considering that I often go out after work, and I try to avoid having vintage foodstuffs growing fur in my refrigerator?  I reflected on my social calendar for the week, and noted that it would be another three days before I would be home to indulge that stalk of sprouts again – if I could possibly fit a tree-branch sized vegetable inside my tiny bar-sized refrigerator in the first place.

My miniscule fridge is primarily packed with beverages and a few condiments, the telltale sign of the stubbornly single who considers take-out cuisine within a three-block radius of home base home cooking.  The last site I want to see as I reach for an icy cold one is a moldy branch of Brussels sprouts that I purchased on a whim like the bottle of Japanese Miso salad dressing I only ate once last summer.  As winter approaches, it is looking a little more like a bottle of a cream-topped toxic cocktail every day.

A few weeks ago I felt disgust when I had to toss one rubbery asparagus that I had fully intended to eat along with its peers had it not entered the vegetable protection program inside my vegetable bin.  I did not realize it was there until I began smelling something turning rancid every time I opened the door.  I am relatively conscientious of my food inventory and could not figure out what had chosen to die inside my refrigerator.  In October, there was a plastic bag containing a few stray green beans that had escaped my food focus until they atrophied into a stiff soup, nothing like any made by Progresso unless they’ve recently added a variety called, “What the hell is that?”

Yet, that stalk of sprouts looked so enticing to me.  For a fleeting moment I considered if Fairway still has stalks of sprouts available next week, I could carry one with me on the plane when I visit my family in California over the holidays, even though both my father and brother-in-law hate Brussels sprouts, and I will probably fall even more out of favor with my niece, Sweet Pea.  I can imagine what my sixteen-year-old heir might say:

Sweet Pea (in a loud whisper to her mother):  Mom, look she brought us vegetables!  Vegetables, Mom!  She’s so weird.

Dovima:  You don’t have to eat them.  They’re good.  I like them.

Sweet Pea:  Whatever.

My life-long supporter, my sister, Dovima, is more of a vegetable enthusiast.  Maybe gifting her with this stalk will make up for once again failing to get her the kirsch-filled chocolate she likes.  Then again, maybe not.

Therefore, I passed on the stalk and bought a small bag of far less sexy loose sprouts that I had for dinner that night.  I’ll also pass on bringing a stalk with me to the Bay Area, if only to stay on my niece’s good side since she does the seating arrangement for Christmas dinner.  I know I am fast approaching crossing the line where she’ll seat me alone in the outdoor patio with the cat.

Lame Adventure 87: Chump Change

Whenever I have extra pennies, nickels or dimes, I deposit them into my change jar and note the amount on the blank side of one of my yet to be published literary masterpieces since I am a staunch believer in recycling the trash.  When I calculate that I’ve crossed the $35 threshold, and my change jar rivals the weight of Milton’s right foot, I haul it over to my bank’s penny saver machine to cash it out.

Milton's right foot playing the diva.

35 bucks in a jar.

Earlier this month, when I last accomplished this task, I stood in line behind a kindred spirit approximately one-tenth my age that was carrying her change in a Dora the Explorer bank.  Ah, my peer!

My change jar should now contain $2.10, but at this moment, it only holds $2.04 because when I was recently going to deposit 44 cents into it, I noticed that one of my nickels was minted in 1939 and a penny was from Canada.  I wondered, “Wow, what are the odds of that?”  My mind was more focused on the 1939 nickel when that thought crossed it.

$2 and four cents.

The penny I would later recycle at my grocery store, Fairway, in a smooth as gravel transaction.

Penny in question.

Surly Cashier:  This isn’t American.  It’s from Canada.

Me:  Actually, like the US, Canada is in North America.  You know, the other day, I got this penny in my change from one of your colleagues.

In evident appreciation of my geography lesson, Surly Cashier tossed my Canadian penny into her change drawer with a flick of her wrist worthy of Serena Williams.  The clink it made sounded remarkably similar to, “Fuck you.”

Returning to the topic of my 1939 nickel, according to Wikipedia 1939 was indeed a banner year for the Jefferson profile nickel for only a mere 120,615,000 were minted without a Philadelphia “P” mint mark – just like mine!  The world’s population back then was approximately 2.3 billion, so this further puts into perspective just how rare indeed that nickel was.  For example, I am sure that very few goat herders in Tibet had a 1939 nickel in those days, but here I am, 71 years later, residing in the heart of Manhattan, and one just falls into my wallet.

What are the odds?

After conducting further research I learned something intriguing, 1939 was one of the dates that counterfeiter Francis Leroy Henning of Erial, New Jersey used on the nickels he produced.  He minted approximately half a million and 100,000 Henning nickels entered circulation in 1954.  He was arrested the following year, served three years in prison, and fined $5000.  It is believed that he dumped many of his nickels in Copper Creek and the Schuylkill River in New Jersey, but they were never recovered.  Even if he was tempted, I doubt that he pressed his luck with the authorities and paid his fine in Jefferson profile coins.  Although it is technically illegal to own a counterfeit, Henning nickels dated 1939, 1944, 1946, 1947 and 1953, with one more date still undiscovered, are worth between $20 and $30.  The telltale signs of a Henning nickel are a hole in the “R” in Pluribus and the lack of a P mintmark in the ones dated 1944.

Henning nickel -- see hole in R in Pluribus.

With this warehouse of knowledge filling my head, I grabbed my magnifying glass and checked out my 1939 nickel.  I did not see a hole in the R in Pluribus.  Undaunted, I then went online and found the Coin Values Guide for Jefferson Nickels in About.com.  A chart declared that a 1939 nickel minus a mintmark is worth 25 cents.  The site also said that if a coin is “fairly worn” it’s “worth much less than the coin prices given.”

Therefore, it appears that seventy-one years later, my 1939 nickel is worth all of five cents.  Hence, the title of this post.